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February 8, 2016

Reid: GOP Will Lose House if Government Shuts Down Again

Majority Leader Harry Reid heads to the Senate floor to announce a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt default. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reid’s interview with Univision aired Sunday.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in an interview aired Sunday that Republicans would be at risk of losing their majority in the House if the government were to shut down again in January.

Reid told the Spanish-language network Univision that he believes Republicans will not use the same tactics that led to the most recent 16-day shutdown — attempting to defund Obamacare by withholding funding for the entire government — because the political costs would be too great.

“I don’t blame the American people for being upset. What we have here in America today is a crisis created for no reason, other than to satisfy the shrill right-wing Tea Party. … And I would hope that this crisis as some Republican members of Congress have said, you can look at Roy Blunt, a Republican of Missouri, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. I’m paraphrasing, but they said this was a terrible waste of resources,” Reid said of the shutdown that could cost the economy $24 billion.  “All it did is hurt Republicans. … I hope they’ve learned a lesson. The American people will not put up with that. And if this happens again, I don’t think it will, but if it does, I think the House of Representatives will go Democratic.”

“There was so much pushback against this silly, stupid thing they were trying to do,” Reid said, of the House GOP’s repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare even before the shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also has said another shutdown in January — when the most recent continuing resolution expires — is unlikely. McConnell and Reid were the key figures in negotiating the deal that reopened the government and raised the debt limit through February.

Though many Democrats and some Republicans have offered a similar theory, Reid was the most blunt to date about one of the GOP’s greatest political fears: a second turn at the helm as speaker for Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“I believe the polls that show 18 [House] Republicans … if the vote were today they would lose. So they, I hope they’ve learned their lesson. If they haven’t, they really aren’t thinking too well,” the majority leader said. Democrats currently hold 200 seats in the House, and 218 is needed to assume the majority.

Reid also talked to Univision about the immigration overhaul bill the Senate has passed. He said that Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, should bring an immigration bill to the floor regardless of whether a majority of Republicans support the measure — echoing a talking point Senate Democrats used throughout the shutdown when they believed a united Democratic caucus and a couple of dozen GOP lawmakers would band together to reopen the government.

Reid’s words were cautious at best, considering an immigration overhaul is still a legislative reach in the House. However, President Barack Obama said last week that signing a bill into law is among his top priorities.

“When an issue comes up, they should all be able to vote on it — Democrats and Republicans. The speaker would only let Republicans vote. Now on this most important measure he let everybody vote,” Reid said. “I would hope [Boehner] would get away from having only Republicans. His history was, what I’ll do is, I’m not going to pass anything unless it’s the majority of the majority. I hope this breaks that. I think an issue that comes up like immigration. If immigration were brought to the floor tomorrow, it would pass overwhelming in the House of Representatives, overwhelmingly. The American people want it, it would reduce the debt by a trillion dollars. It’s long overdue.”

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