Senate Adjourns Bickering

Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:17pm

The Senate officially adjourned for the August recess on a somber note Thursday night, as lawmakers frustrated with the political bickering go home without much to brag about.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pleaded with Republicans to get beyond their dissatisfaction with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and pass the defense authorization bill. Republicans refused because they said that Reid blocked them from offering drilling amendments on the oil speculation bill, which has been the business of the Senate for the past two weeks.

“This is the defense authorization bill. For heaven’s sake, can we not set aside the frustrations that we all have on this other issue and at least support our troops and come together and unify behind our troops?” Levin pointedly asked, looking directly at Republicans. “Can we not at least set a time to take up the defense authorization bill, which is critically important?”

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) stuck to his guns and rallied his GOP troops to, in a vote of 51-39, prevent the petition to end debate on the speculation bill. The Republican leader said that the chamber “ought to stay on the No. 1 issue facing America” — the high prices at the pump.

Even the adjournment vote came down to a political fight, as 40 Republicans voted against closing for the summer recess.