Reid Hopes for Recess Within 24 Hours

Posted June 26, 2008 at 9:58am

Updated: 11:59 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday morning that he hopes the Senate will be able to leave for the July Fourth recess “in the next 24 hours.”

“I don’t know yet, but I’m hopeful this will be worked out in the next 24 hours,” Reid said. “If it isn’t, it’ll be worked out soon. We’re going to stay here until we finish [the supplemental war spending bill] and we finish Medicare.” The Medicare bill would prevent doctors who serve the government-run health care system from having to take a pay cut starting July 1.

Despite his optimism, Reid began laying the groundwork for a vote on a Medicare doctor’s bill on Sunday. The leader’s office notified fellow Senate Democrats Thursday morning that they were still running into objections from Republicans to moving to the measure because of language to offset the cost of the doctor’s fix.

If Republicans do not agree to bring the bill up Thursday or Friday, Reid said he would have to file a motion to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on the House-passed Medicare measure. For procedural reasons, that motion could not be filed until late Thursday and would not ripen until Sunday morning.

“This is a bill we must complete action on prior to leaving for the recess,” read the e-mail sent to Senate Democratic offices. “As a result, Senators should be prepared to adjust their schedule so they can be here for the Sunday vote and any other votes, such as cloture on the bill and passage of the bill which would occur later in the week” of July Fourth.

Reid said he was still hopeful about reaching an agreement to pass a rewrite of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but he left open the possibility that final passage of the bill would be left until after July Fourth. A handful of Democratic Senators have been insisting that Reid jump through time-consuming procedural hoops in order to pass the measure, which enjoys the support of 80 Senators.

However, Reid said he has given up on completing action on a major housing bill this week. It will be held over until after the Independence Day holiday.