Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday angrily denounced what he called GOP efforts to use the chamber floor to embarrass or denigrate with accusations that he was trying to cancel weekend votes to attend a fundraiser.
This debate has really come to a point that Ive rarely seen in the Senate. In fact, Ive 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 ... I would never, ever intentionally come to the floor and try to talk to somebody about having had a fundraiser and thats why theyre trying to get out of here, Reid said Thursday afternoon.
Reid also accused Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans of attempting to stall the health care bill as a result of criticism from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck ... [who are] upset at Sen. McConnell because hes not opposing the health care bill enough.
Reids charges came after he tried Thursday morning to cancel plans to have votes on Saturday and Sunday. With Reid scheduled to attend a major fundraiser in New Orleans on Saturday, Republicans argued that the Democratic leader was trying to put his fundraising needs above the legislative process.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has become increasingly combative over the past several weeks, was particularly harsh in his criticism.
The Majority Leader wants us to go out for the weekend, after keeping us in all last weekend. And here we have an unspecified proposal that none of us know the details of the cost. So Im supposed to go home to Arizona this weekend and say, My friends, weve been working on health care for a year and guess what. I can tell you nothing? We need to stay in, McCain said.
I know New Orleans is very nice this time of year, but perhaps we ought to stay here and get this job done, McCain said in a thinly veiled reference to Reids trip.
A senior GOP aide, however, was more direct in his criticism: Just when you think the Majority Leader couldnt possibly create a worse public perception of what Democrats are doing up here, he suggests shutting down the Senate two weeks after the Louisiana purchase so he can go to a fundraiser in New Orleans.
Republicans also warned privately that they will not make it easy on Reid if he continues to push for no votes this weekend. One GOP leadership aide said Republicans will likely force Reid to use a motion to adjourn if he does not want to hold votes a process that would require at least one roll-call vote.
If he wants to go to this fundraiser, hes going to have to move to adjourn, the aide warned.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.