It’s so fun following the changing plans and emotional ups and downs of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
First Reid announced that he intended to keep the Senate in session this weekend to work on his healthcare plan, just as he did last weekend. (This Saturday marks the first day of Hanukkah, so maybe that was Reid’s way of saying “Happy Hanukkah” to the Senate’s Jewish members.)
Then, according to Politico, some GOP senators started bruiting about the suggestion that Reid actually wanted to take the weekend off so he could attend a Nevada fundraiser aimed at giving a badly needed boost to his flagging reelection prospects in 2010. A stung Reid fired back this volley, according to Politico:
I THINK THAT THIS DEBATE HAS REALLY COME TO A POINT THAT I’VE RARELY SEEN IN THE SENATE — IN FACT, I’VE NEVER SEEN IT — TO HAVE MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE COME TO THE FLOOR AND IN SOME WAY TRY TO EMBARRASS OR DENIGRATE ME BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT — IN FACT, TRYING TO EMBARRASS ME.
BUT THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND, ANY EVENTS I HAD SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND HAVE BEEN CANCELED. EVENTS I HAD LAST WEEKEND HAD BEEN CANCELED. FOUR OR FIVE OF THEM. SO I’M — TO SAY THE LEAST, I — I WOULD NEVER, EVER INTENTIONALLY COME TO THE FLOOR AND TRY TO TALK TO SOMEBODY ABOUT HAVING HAD A FUND-RAISER AND THAT’S WHY THEY’RE TRYING TO GET OUT OF HERE. THE REASON THAT I LAID OUT TO THE SENATE WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A REASONABLE SCHEDULE. … I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE BECAUSE WE’VE WORKED PRETTY HARD HERE TO HAVE A DAY OR TWO OFF.
“Denigrate”? Dontcha love that word?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell riposted with an insistence that the GOP merely wanted to get some work done:
“I think I can speak for all 40 Republican senators, we’re not interested in taking off this weekend we’re interested in staying here, debating the measures before the Senate and getting back to health care as rapidly as possible with a series of amendments that give the American people the opportunity to understand what is being proposed here and how bad it would be for the country,” McConnell said. “So this is a debate we welcome, we’re anxious to get back to it and whatever time we finish this conference report, it is my hope and expectation, although we don’t have an assurance yet, we will not only go back to the health care bill, we will have votes on amendments to health care bill.”
As McConnell’s remarks suggested, the Senate will indeed be in session all weekend–although not to debate healthcare but rather, some spending bills that must be acted on by the end of the year. That’s because Reid couldn’t get the votes Thursday, either from Repubs or enough moderate Dems, to act on a variety of amendments to his health bill (the Senate voted 56-43 to move to the appropriations bills).