Holmes Norton, Gray confront Obama, Reid over D.C. funding

WASHINGTON – Two D.C. leaders trying to make sure the District continues operations during the federal shutdown had what some described as heated exchanges Wednesday with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.

In the case of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., colleagues say her exchange with Obama was heated, although she described it as “a conversation,” The Washington Post reports.

During a gathering of House Democrats at the White House, Holmes Norton — the District’s non-voting member of the House — sought Obama’s support for a bill passed by the House that would allow D.C. to use local tax funds to maintain operations until Dec. 15.

Congress controls D.C. appropriations, and Democrats have been opposed to piecemeal funding of the government.

Holmes Norton said she wasn’t picking a fight with the president, but was trying to “have a conversation with him rather than just asking a question,” she told the Post.

During the exchange, she reportedly interrupted Obama and refused to yield the microphone.

Also Wednesday, Mayor Vincent Gray, a Democrat, confronted Reid on the steps of the Capitol.

“Sir, we are not a department of the government,” Gray told Reid, the Post reports.

“We’re simply trying to be able to spend our own money,” Gray said.

The Post says Reid, D-Nev., responded by saying, “I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up, OK? Don’t screw it up.”

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