For the Senate, It’s In Tuesday and Out Thursday

Posted October 9, 2009 at 11:40am

The Senate next week will continue its relatively light floor workload, with the chamber expected to be in session only from Tuesday afternoon through midday Thursday — even as House leaders are expecting a full week of work.Traditionally, the Senate has spent significantly more time in session than the House, and in previous years so-called bed check votes on Monday evenings were common, as were votes late into the evening on Thursdays.The Senate has held some Thursday evening votes since the August recess, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has significantly reduced the amount of time lawmakers need to be in Washington — votes on Mondays have been rare even when the Senate is in session, and the Senate has either been adjourned on most Fridays or has convened for a pro forma session.In contrast, House Democratic leaders have held votes on several Fridays and Mondays since the August recess, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Thursday announced a full schedule for next week, including votes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. While the Senate will formally return to work at 2 p.m. Tuesday, votes are not expected until 5:30, when lawmakers take a procedural vote on the Commerce, Justice and science spending bill.According to Democratic aides, Reid agreed to the late start in order to allow his colleagues to participate in a full day of events during Columbus Day rather than force West Coast lawmakers to return to D.C. on Monday evening.Aides also expected work to be done early Thursday: Reid has an 8 a.m. breakfast fundraiser scheduled with Vice President Joseph Biden in Reno, Nev., on Friday morning, and would likely have to leave Washington on Thursday evening.Although they have spent less time in session than in some previous years, the chamber has been fairly busy. In addition to the consuming health care debate, lawmakers have passed a number of appropriations bills and smaller policy measures, as well as a handful of judicial and executive branch nominations.