Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday questioned why Democrats should provide funding to the National Institutes of Health to "help one child who has cancer," and then attacked a CNN reporter for asking the question at a Capitol Hill news conference.
The Nevada Democrat's comments came as House Republicans were expected to approve a measure later in the day financing NIH to allow as many as 200 patients, including children with cancer, to undergo clinical trials there each week during the federal government shutdown.
About 14,700 NIH employees, or nearly 75 percent of its staff, were furloughed Tuesday.
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Here's a transcript of the exchange with CNN reporter Dana Bash
, published by The Washington Free Beacon:
You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds at least the NIH. Given what you’ve said, will you at least pass that? And if not, aren't you playing the same political games that Republicans are?
Listen, [Illinois] Sen. [Dick] Durbin explained that very well, and he did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did [New York] Sen. [Chuck] Schumer. What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government is 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. They're obsessed with this Obamacare. It's working now and it will continue to work and people will love it more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.
But if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?
Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base [in Nevada] that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you're irresponsible and reckless …
… I'm just asking a question.
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