Housing Logjam May Soon End

Posted July 8, 2008 at 3:36pm

The gentle tussle between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his junior Nevada colleague, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), seems to be abating.

On Tuesday, Ensign proposed finding funding for his renewable energy tax credits after acknowledging that his options for offering his amendment to the housing bill are essentially running out.

“They know that they can eventually win,” Ensign said on Tuesday, referring to the procedural hoops that he has forced the Senate to jump through in order to arrive at a vote on the housing measure.

Ensign would like to offer an amendment to the housing bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to extend renewable-energy tax credits. He said that his amendment could be paid for if Congress slashed discretionary funding.

The junior Senator from Nevada conceded that there are only a “few more cloture votes” that would last a “couple of days” until a final vote on the housing package takes place.

The two Nevada Senators have been battling for a few weeks over whether Ensign can offer his amendment to the housing bill. Ensign’s tactics have resulted in the Senate having to endure a series of cloture votes in order to approve the bill and significantly stalled floor action before the July 4th recess, irking Reid and sending tempers flaring.

A series of housing votes began Monday evening, and a Democratic aide said it won’t be long before they reach a final vote.

Reid argues that the House would not accept Ensign’s amendment because moderate House Democrats would fight against it. If passed, it would bounce the measure back and forth between the two chambers, wasting time, Reid contends.