Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's exchange with a reporter earlier Wednesday has become fuel for Republican ire.
The exchange involved cancer research, and Reid questioning the reporter's intelligence.
Republicans are using the back-and-forth in House of Representatives floor debate to paint Democrats as insensitive. Republicans want to fund the National Institutes of Health; Democrats are largely rejecting such piecemeal approaches to keeping the government open.
Here's the Reid exchange at the news conference:
Q: You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is specifically going to pass a bill...given what you said, would you at least pass that? And if not, aren't you playing the same political games as Republicans are?
Listen, Senator Durbin (Richard Durbin of Illinois) explained that very well. And he did it here, and he did it on the floor earlier, as did Senator Schumer (Charles Schumer of New York). And it's this. What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government's going to be funded? It's obvious what's going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow.
What this is all about is "Obamacare." They are obsessed. I don't know what other word I can use. I don't know what other word I can use. They are obsessed with this "Obamacare" thing. As has been pointed on the floor the last few days, they did the same thing on Social Security. They did the same thing on Medicare. Now they're doing it on this.
It's working now, and it'll continue to work, and people will love it even more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.
Q: But if you can help one child with cancer, why won't you do it?
SEN. REID: Listen.
Q: (Not audible)
SEN. SCHUMER: Why pit one against the other?
SEN. REID: Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.
To have someone of your intelligence suggest such a thing maybe means you're as irresponsible and reckless.