Tales from the Trail

A Senate Christmas tale

(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.

Democrats, Meet Mr. Hobson

RTR1H4KV_Comp-150x150Democrats don’t like President Barack Obama’s tax compromise. They’re disappointed. Some may vote against it. But the package still seems destined to pass.

“If the idea is that this is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, I think the president’s going to realize there are going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to be voting ‘no’,” House Democrat Anthony Weiner tells ABC.

The tough-talking New Yorker, one of Obama’s more ferocious critics on the tax issue, has likened the tax discussion Vice President Joe Biden had with House Democrats on Wednesday to a prison brawl.

How did Murkowski win? Go figure

RTR2FWVX_Comp-150x150Lisa Murkowski is the first to win a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate in more than half a century. But that’s not the important part.

The Alaska Republican is also a moderate who sounds determined to defy the hardline GOP  ‘defeat Obama’ drumbeat in Congress and the uncompromising politics of the Tea Party.

Why? Because, she says, that’s what the general election voters who enabled her to triumph over the Tea Party – and her home-state nemesis Sarah Palin – want her to do.

Will spelling count in Alaska write-in ballot count?

vote3They’re counting write-in ballots in Alaska to decide the winner of the last undecided U.S. Senate race of the 2010 elections.

It’s write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski versus Sarah Palin protege and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in a Republican family feud where spelling counts.

Incumbent  Murkowski lost  to Miller in the Republican Senate primary. But she mounted a write-in campaign to keep the seat she’s held for eight years.

Christine O’Donnell is not going away

Christine O’Donnell may have lost her Senate race. But she’s not exiting the spotlight. In fact, she’s sounding a bit like Sarah Palin.RTXU581_Comp-150x150

The Tea Party darling of Delaware cheerfully tells NBC’s Today show that she’s pursuing a book deal. She likes being involved in documentaries. And she’s going to fight tooth and nail against whatever Democrats try to pull during the upcoming lameduck session in Congress (how isn’t quite clear).

“We created a platform and we’ve been able to get a lot of issues out there. And I’d like to continue to do that at least for the short term.”

What wilderness? Republicans emerge from elections ready to charge

Republicans have emerged from the political wilderness and they’re wasting no time laying down markers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell particularly sounds like he’s looking for bear, not mincing words in his speech at the Heritage Foundation today.  SAFRICA/

Never mind that his party is still  in the minority in the Senate and would need support from Democrats and the president to get anything enacted, McConnell appears ready to lay down the law.

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

Election is over, now can they get along?

It’s the day after the election and the big question now is will they play nice?

The Tea Party’s coming to town, Republicans seized control of the House, and Democrats are still in charge of the White House and Senate. 

Soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner today said he saw no problem with incorporating members of the Tea Party into the Republican Party. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the goal was “how do we meet in the middle?”

from The Great Debate:

Senate Democrats choose losers to lead

[Updated to correct date of Daschle defeat.] For the second time in less than a decade, the Senate Democrats are finding themselves with a leader facing political extinction. Tom Daschle, Harry Reid’s predecessor as the leader of the Senate Democrats, lost his own reelection race in 2002 in 2004, having become minority leader after the 2002 elections. For Democrats, this is not an unprecedented experience.  In the 1950s, back-to-back Democratic leaders also lost their seats.

Checking out the relatively short history of the Senate Leader position shows that the Democrats have been more willing to choose vulnerable members. There have been only 11 Senate Democratic leaders (the position officially came into existence in 1920), and four have lost reelection campaigns.

Republicans have, in some ways, a happier success rate. The first Republican leader, though unofficial, was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who died in office in 1924. Including both of those men, of the Republicans' 17 leaders (one was only acting), only one lost his reelection campaign, James Watson of Indiana in the FDR tidal wave of 1932. In other ways, not so happy. Five of their leaders have died in office (as opposed to only one for the Democrats).

O’Donnell credits prayer for campaign boost

USA/

Republicans may be abandoning Christine O’Donnell’s U.S. Senate campaign. But she still has friends in high places — really high places.

In fact, the Delaware Tea Party favorite is crediting divine intervention for the successes that her campaign has had.

“The day that we saw a spike in the polls was a day that some people had a prayer meeting for me, that morning for this campaign,” she tells the Christian Broadcasting Network, a cable TV channel founded by televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson.