Weekend Session Starts With DeMint, Durbin Sparring

Posted July 26, 2008 at 9:58am

The weekend session got off to a fiery start between Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who engaged in a heated debate over the merits of the Saturday vote. DeMint did his best to explain why he forced the hand of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a rare Saturday vote on the massive housing bill, which was sure to get to the president’s desk in light of the housing crisis. DeMint contended that many bills costing millions of dollars are passed without much debate and in secret, and that the housing bill could have been passed earlier had Democrats agreed to allow his amendment to prevent mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which are receiving a bailout in the housing bill — from lobbying Congress. Durbin scoffed at the notion that Members did not have the opportunity to review bills before they are passed. “I think we ought to call the Sergeant-at-Arms Office,” Durbin said. “Something terrible has happened here. Apparently, the pages on the Republican side of the aisle are not distributing the Congressional Record to the Republican Members.” DeMint, in large part, has been on the defensive because Democrats are pointing to him as the cause of the weekend vote. He said that all this could have been avoided if Reid agreed to allow his amendment.