A Senate Christmas tale

December 15, 2010

(UPDATES with new Reid comments).

Christmas bells are ringing. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t seem to be listening. Much to the chagrin of staffers and more than a few senators, Reid is threatening to keep the Senate in session until Christmas Eve and beyond to finish all the legislative work that Congress failed to complete before the November elections.USA/

That amounts to just about a whole year’s worth of lawmaking. Congress never got around to passing any of the 12 spending bills that fund the government. So the Senate is expected to take up a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill after senators voted to extend Bush-era tax cuts by two years and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for a year.

Reid earlier this week said “…we are going to complete our work, no matter how long it takes, in this Congress.”

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to fight the spending bill and Senator Jon Kyl suggested a Christmas reality check.

“It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out … frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff,” Kyl said.

Reid was not about to take questioning of his Christmas spirit quietly.

“I do not need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Senators Kyl and  DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means,” he said. (Republican Senator Jim DeMint complained about acting on a major arms control treaty right before Christmas).

“Senate Republicans need look no further than themselves in casting blame for the predicament we are in right now,” Reid said.

The House needs to act on the spending bill and tax cut so the Senate is not alone. Lawmakers had hoped to finish their work by the end of this week, but political maneuverings by both parties could keep at least the Senate in session for several more days.

Reid’s “to do” list also includes the START treaty and a healthcare bill for firefighters and other responders to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York who are suffering illnesses blamed on inhaling toxic fumes and dust.

Reid also wants a Senate vote on the Dream Act that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants a chance at gaining U.S. citizenship by serving in the military or going to college. And Reid wants the Senate to act on gays in the military after the House acts on legislation as expected.

All of this would have to be done by January 5 when the 112th Congress will be seated and Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.

Reid blames Republican obstruction for the long list of legislative chores as the 111th Congress draws to a close.

“If they decide to work with us we can all have a happy holiday,” he said.

It should be noted that the Senate was in session on Christmas Eve last year voting on the historic healthcare overhaul that House Republican leaders have vowed to repeal.

Photo credits:  REUTERS/Molly Riley (The U.S. Capitol at Christmas);  REUTERS/Yuri Gripas  (A man dressed as Santa Claus skis in the Potomac River)


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Reid had a fillibuster proof senate to do whatever he wanted for two years. Too late to blame anyone else. Pass a continuing resolution to fund the government till february and go the heck on home. We’ve had enough of huge bills being passed without taking the time to read them! Merry Christmas, shut up and go!

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive

I caught Senator Jim DeMint on Fox News this afternoon, where he may have accidentally shed some light on his shameless obstructionism:

“What I’m trying to do is help run out the clock.”

Finally, we get the truth.

This has been the routine for the last two years — the Senate Majority have a list of things they want to accomplish. Senate Republicans oppose all those things, even the things they used to support. As a result, the Democrats keep trying to advance their priorities, while conservatives like DeMint make a mockery of the legislative process with childish obstructionism.

By his own admission, what DeMint is trying to do is “help run out the clock.” If Jon Kyl and others want to know why they, like most of their constituents, are having to work throughout December, they need look no further than the junior senator from South Carolina.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive

zotdoc; I believe we must have all missed that “fillibuster proof Senate for 2 years” that you speak of.

They had the 60 votes for a very short time, during which the other party (the Party of NO) did every thing they could to stop anything from happening. I am sorry to admit that I once was a Repulican, but they have been a disgrace going all the way back to Nixon. The Party of NO got their Big Tax Breaks for the Rich passed….Now perhaps they could at least cooperate for the good of the Country.

Posted by Robert76 | Report as abusive

Thank God DeMint wants to run out the clock.

The bunch in power trying to ram things through are the ones who were thrown out of office.

The American people want nothing to do with the lame duck congress…

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Senate Republicans are grasping at every possible reason to “run out the clock” on any national priority. Their shameless obstruction took more victims last week when they used another filibuster to block the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This legislation provides health care to 9/11 first responders and emergency workers who are suffering illnesses from working at Ground Zero.

Not one Republican senator had the guts to come to the floor and explain why the desperately needed, fully paid-for compensation didn’t deserve to pass. When Fox News asked Sen. John Thune for an explanation, Thune said the tax cuts are a bigger priority because “there is a deadline.” When first responders came to the Senate to advocate for the bill yesterday, Sen. Susan Collins actually called the Capitol police to keep them out.

So “thank God DeMint wants to run out the clock.” When the clock runs out for those pesky heroes who refuse to “die quickly,” the money can be saved for the tax cuts.

The Republican party represents 2% of the American population. That’s a fact that American voters chose to ignore when they voted the same clowns who rubberstamped Bush’s agenda back into office. They will only have themselves to blame when the utter stupidity of what they did on Nov. 2 hits home.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive

You put such a negative spin on everything. You are very eloquent…and paid for your diatribes.

If the American people bought on to your spin, then the American people would not have thrown the progressive democrats out of office. It was a slaughter for people with your point of view. All your spin the last two years proved one thing. You do not represent the views of the American people.

The agenda of this president (about a 42 percent approval rating…a month after the election…) and this congress (about an 18 percent approval rating…this congress has the worst approval rating ever…) has put the debt at dangerous levels and that is what concerns the American people. If you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it.

Funny though, the democrats could change the rules to put the health care debacle of a simple majority vote….they can do the same with everything else. But won’t.

Also, if the democrats who still control congress in a big way could pass it if they wanted to. But they fall back on blaming those republicans who still don’t control the agenda.

Nice try. You are paid political hack.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Your zombie talking points don’t change the facts. It was conservative Democrats who were thrown out of office, not progressives. Congress’ approval rating has everything to do with unprecedented obstructionism by the minority party, not unpopular policies.
It is Republicans who change the rules to get what they want, not Democrats. If they were as ruthless as the GOP, they would have launched the “nuclear option” on Republican obstructionism long ago. They may not have the best political strategists that money can buy, but at least they play by the rules.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive

You can say what you want…and you can spin it, as usual, to your point of view…after all, you are paid for your diatribes…

As you know, this is the worst slaughter for the democrats since the 1930’s. No matter who you spin it, the American people do not want government to intrude in their lives…and they spoke loud and clear…

You have been wrong for over two years. You were so smug and confident for so long. I told you what the American people would do and they did it. They totally rejected this congress and this president. If the American people wanted this progressive agenda, they would have kept this bunch in power…they didn’t…

You are wrong..about everything you have written. I was right and I am right.

So long chump.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive