Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fired off over a question about whether the Democratic-controlled Senate would vote to restore funding for children undergoing clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
Asked by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash if the Senate would follow the House's plans to vote for a bill to fund the NIH during the shutdown, Reid blasted the GOP-controlled House and insulted Bash.
"What right do they have to pick and choose which part of government is going to be funded? It's obvious what's going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible, wow," he said. (read the full exchange below)
About 200 new patients come to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland every week. Patients are now being told they will have to wait until the government starts up again to begin their trials, according to NIH spokesman John Burklow.
"In fact, six new studies would have started this week that we are deferring," Burklow said. Approximately 30 of the 200 new patients are children, he said, and about 10 of those children are cancer patients.
Pressed further if Reid would move legislation if it meant helping even one child, the Nevada Democrat grew more irate.
"Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting at home. They have a few problems of their own. To have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing means you're as irresponsible and reckless," he said to Bash.
Reid said he supported comments made by Sen. Dick Durbin on the issue involving the clinical trials.
"When I raised that issue and others did, Senator Cruz decided to put the NIH on his bucket list of agencies that he was willing to save," Durbin said earlier in the press conference. "Well, it shouldn't stop there. He ought to ultimately open up the government, because there are so many agencies critically important to our country that are closed down today for no earthy reason."
– CNN's Val Willingham contributed to this report.
Bash: You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds the NIH. Will you, at least, pass that? And if not, aren't you playing the same political games that republicans are?
REID: Listen, Senator Durbin explained that very well. And he's, did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did Senator Schumer, and it's this: What right do they have to pick and choose what part of government's going to be funded? It's obvious what's going home 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 what other word I can use. They are obsessed with this Obamacare thing.
As has been pointed out on the floor in the past 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.
DANA: But if you can help one child, why won't you do it?
REID: I, listen...
SCHUMER: Why pit one against the other?
REID: Why, why, why would we want to do that? I have, I have 1100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have, they have a few problems of their own. This is, to have someone of your intelligence suggest such a thing maybe means you're as irresponsible and reckless.