Loose Lips

Vince Gray Crashes Harry Reid’s Press Conference

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Vince Gray and Eleanor Holmes Norton held a press conference in front of the Capitol today to urge the Senate to pass a bill to fund the District during the government shutdown. When his own press conference ended, though, Gray had an idea—why not make it two?

So the mayor and Norton, followed by their entourages and reporters, crashed a nearby press conference held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats. Gray took a spot next to Reid; Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, also at the earlier press conference, stood next to his would-be Senate colleagues.

As Gray made his case to Reid, Reid responded, "Don't screw this up," according to the Post. Reid declined to say what he meant.

LL has a guess, though. At his own press conference before he crashed Reid's, Gray had stood next to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa as he criticized the Democratic-led Senate for holding up the District spending bill, which has already passed the House.

"Every worker and every citizen of the District of Columbia needs to be counted as essential," Issa said.

Teaming up with Issa and crashing the press conference was a bold move for Gray, but it's one he only picked because he looks to have opted not to do something even more brazen: keeping the D.C. government open without federal approval, an idea he considered at one point. Gray had declared the entire District workforce essential in his shutdown plan, but the White House Office of Management and Budget hasn't approved it. Which means that when the city spends the last dollars in its $144 million reserve fund (money that was appropriated to D.C. in previous years, then banked), it won't have any legal authority to keep operating. Without federal approval, District Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi is expected to refused to release back the funds to keep the city running.

That hasn't kept advocates of that approach, including lobbying group DC Vote and Councilmember David Grosso, from criticizing Gray. In a press release today, Grosso said he wouldn't attend the press conference because of the mayor's "capitulation" to Congress.

"I know he's new to the Council, but he should read the Home Rule Charter," responds mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro.

Gray says he hasn't heard back from President Barack Obama or Reid on his request to meet with them about the shutdown.

If D.C. does eventually have to close nonessential services, trash would only be collected every other week, libraries and recreation centers would close, the Department of Motor Vehicles would shutter, and parking enforcement would cease. As the only municipality in the country that also fills many state functions, D.C. has already stopped paying debts to Medicaid providers and others, because its entire budget is essentially being held hostage by the shutdown.

Photo by Will Sommer

  • Anonymous

    What an embarrassing gaggle of fools. The dirty mayor, the failed delegate, the drunk, and the closet case. Its now official, Jack gets my vote for not taking part in this sabotage. Clearly he understands you don't negotiate from a position of weakness by threatening and embarrassing allies. Take careful note of who did not take part in this stupid stunt, they might have a clue.

    There is no fool like an old fool Eleanor. You embarras the Senate majority leader with some grandstand stunt and then pretend you don't get the fact no one on the Hill has an iota of respect for you.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Devon-Dibley-His-Golden-Key/dp/1484181557/ Michael

    Here is what Reid said to Gray:

    “I’m on your side, don’t screw it up, okay? Don’t screw it up,”

    Here is the part WaPo decided to highlight:

    Reid to Gray: ‘I’m on your side’


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  • Daddy Grace


  • Brahmin

    I don't agree with what Mayor Gray did, but what Grasso has done is look like a shin kicker.

    Grasso has to understand he won, because people saw the stench of Michael Brown wafting up their nose. Grasso seemed promising enough a choice but since then he has come across as alien to most of his constituents. And a little bit of an outsider inside the building.

    We don't need two Tommy Wells.

    And people have to realize absent something happening to Mayor Gray he will win handily in a reelection. No one councilmember seems to dominate at the moment. In Ward 6 there are more Jack Evans signs in parts of the ward.

  • UNCG-Grad

    This was just plain 'ol dumb. Harry Reid was probably thinking (and as a black man I was thinking the same):Look, here you high yella, shady, ni99a. You need to get up out my face before I call Ron Machen and shut you and all the rest of you down, RIGHT NOW !!!!

    Go run and tell that !

  • Ward-8

    How do you say stupid, yes the action of the Mayor who have no credibility beyond the District building and a non-voting Delegate who some how is suffering from delusion of grandeur and said on TV she is equal to the President of the United States, if I didn't hear it, I would call any person who said she said it, a lier. Another person whose influence do not stretch beyond the District of Columbia and who currently can't vote on nothing in the House. They confront the very group that have nothing to do with the shut down and support every District initiatives , I wonder why They didn't confront the real enemies, they are call the TPublicans Dang! I figured it out because they are the real people who control the District's purse strings. So I guess know this stunt of stupidly will give the real obstructionist call the TPublicans another piece meal bill to pass and another distracted talking point. Only in dysfunctional DC.

  • Corky

    Damn, you people are pathetic! What do you expect the mayor to do when he has a city to run and Congress is fucking with our money? Just lay down and take it or stand up and demand respect for the District? Why don't we just elect a door mat for mayor? Maybe you trolls would be happy then. By the way, I could see Fenty or any other Mayor of DC doing the exact same thing--it is his or her job to speak up for DC.

  • cutthecrap

    The Mayor did the right thing, but he addressed the wrong members of Congress. When you are weak and dirty, you tend to do weak, dirty, and low things. It was the right move, but it also was a punk move because he would have never addressed a republican member of congress that way. He doesn't have the balls to do that and is scared of the republican leadership in Congress. Also, as hateful as Vince is, if someone had done the same to him, he would not have thought it was wrong and would have reacted the same as Reid and taken it as personal afront.

  • UNCG Grad

    @ Corky: Ok, so please tell me how effective he was with this confrontation amounting to nothing more than political posturing ? Was Harry Reid supposed to be intimidated ? As a matter of fact, if you have an ounce of political acumen at all, you would know that Harry Reid is not even the guy to take this up with. It's similar to somebody hitting you and then you turn around and hit the person next to you in an effort to gain a resolve.
    It was an exercise in futility - period. Maybe it impressed you and you will run to the polls next November willy-nilly hailing Vincent Gray as your mayoral candidate of choice - provided that he's still a free man. Well you just go right ahead and enjoy every sip of the kool-aid along the way.
    I would expect a display of a little more political savviness, personally.
    I'll take my coffee black, thank you.

  • Typical DC BS

    Sorry you fools don't see that the Mayor took it up with EXACTLY the right group of assholes - the Senate majority leader who's panties are in a bunch because the GOP in the House is FINALLY doing something right - NOT playing the same okeydoke they've been doing for over a decade and just passing monstrous "continuing resolution" funding bills, instead of the smaller appropriations bills the USA used to do for GENERATIONS.

    Geez, learn a little history (or use your memory) and stop believing the propaganda the left spews non-stop.

  • NE John

    We need to get militant about this shit