Reid: ‘No Big Deal’ if Supplemental Not Approved Before Memorial Day

Posted May 1, 2008 at 12:31pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lowered expectations Thursday that Congress would finish a supplemental war spending bill before Memorial Day, even as he rejected the notion that House and Senate negotiations are lagging. “I think we’ll do our best to finish this before the Memorial Day break, but if we don’t, it’s no big deal. There’s money there,” said Reid at a Thursday afternoon press conference. Still, Reid denied that talks between the House and Senate are dragging on longer than either side thought they would. “I don’t know why there is a rush to judgment,” Reid said. “This is moving along quite rapidly. We’re not behind schedule. Everything’s fine.” In early April, Senate aides predicted the bill would be on the floor by the first of May, but it now appears the measure may not come up in the House until next week at the earliest, leaving the Senate to take it up the week of May 12. If that schedule is not met, both chambers could be hard-pressed to get the measure completed before adjourning for the weeklong Memorial Day recess on Friday, May 23. Negotiations between the House and Senate have been complicated by intra-party disputes over whether and how to fund the war as well as a veto threat over additional funding for domestic priorities. Democrats had hoped that adding funds for domestic projects would shore up support in both chambers for the bill. Both Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have been seeking a way to pass the bill this month, but the disparate factions in each chamber have made it difficult to coordinate. Pelosi has a large faction of liberals threatening to vote against any bill that funds the war without restrictions, and Reid could face a GOP-led filibuster if the measure attempts in any way to force troop withdrawals. Because of the political and procedural hurdles both chambers face, Pelosi and Reid have indicated that they may bypass the Appropriations Committee process. Despite an announcement from Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday that he would hold a markup next week, Reid reiterated Thursday that he may take the bill directly to the floor, but he emphasized that no decisions have been made.