Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray stepped away from his role as scandal-scarred leader and into the spotlight as agitator in chief against the federal shutdown during a dramatic confrontation on the Capitol steps Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid according to a Washington Post story today.
It was a new public posture for an embattled mayor whose 2010 campaign remains under federal investigation — but who is now fighting to keep the District government in business by exempting it from the ongoing shutdown.
“Sir, we are not a department of the government,” the mayor told Reid after concluding his news event and then crashing another about 50 yards away, where Reid and other Senate Democrats were talking to reporters. “We’re simply trying to be able to spend our own money.”
Reid (Nev.) responded defensively in front of a bank of cameras and reporters: “I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up, okay? Don’t screw it up.”
The tension came after the Republican-controlled House voted last week to pass a bill allowing the District to use its locally raised tax funds to maintain operations until Dec. 15. Democrats, including Reid and President Obama, have held fast in opposition to piecemeal funding bills, saying Republicans must come to a deal to fund the entire government, not just favored segments.