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Schedule Crimps Money Chase

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Majority Leader Harry Reid gives Sen. Charles Schumer a pat on the shoulder as he leaves a press conference on Thursday. Reid and other Senators have had to cancel fundraising events because of the Senate’s seven-day schedule.

The latest casualty of the contentious health care debate appears to be the time-honored season of holiday fundraising, with numerous Senate Democrats and Republicans being forced to postpone or completely cancel events — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

With Reid forcing the chamber to remain in session on weekends and holding votes on Fridays and Mondays, a host of lawmakers, including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), have been forced to back out of events, rearrange their fundraising schedules or completely cancel fundraisers.

Even Reid, who is facing the re-election fight of his career, has been forced to scrap events. On Thursday, he backed out of a major $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser in New Orleans scheduled for Saturday after Republicans ridiculed him for attempting to cancel this past weekend’s session. Reid has also said he had to ax a handful of events scheduled for the previous weekend because of the health care debate.

Additionally, lawmakers such as Dodd and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have had to cancel events that, while not designed to raise money, were clearly campaign-related. For instance, Dodd on Friday had to back out of an appearance with Vice President Joseph Biden at the East Hartford Fire Department, an event that was piggybacked on a fundraiser that Biden did to boost the Senator’s 2010 campaign. Dodd’s wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, attended the $500-per-person event instead.

McCain had to bag a health care town hall outside Phoenix, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. A GOP leadership aide also said an initial plan to have McCain hold a similar town hall in Arkansas — where Lincoln is facing a difficult re-election race next year — was also scrapped because of the weekend votes.

So far, lawmakers and their staff are attempting to take the delays in stride, with most complaining more about the effect it has on their families than on their campaign schedules.

“I still haven’t put up my Christmas tree,” said DeMint, who acknowledged having to postpone several events as a result of the Senate’s seven-day work schedule of late. However, DeMint said most Members were expecting the long hours, given Reid’s insistence on finishing the health care bill before the year’s end. “Everybody knew Harry would try to hotbox us by not letting us go home,” DeMint said.

Likewise, Roberts, who had planned a $2,000-per-political-action-committee, $1,000-per-individual “NYC Weekend” fundraiser on Saturday, quipped that, “It’s right before Christmas. I’ve got 140 ‘honey do’ projects — ‘honey can you do this, honey can you do that.’ So that rates way before any fundraiser.”

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