Reid: Votes on Omnibus This Weekend

Posted December 10, 2009 at 3:46pm

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that the Senate will be in session Saturday and Sunday to dispose of a $446.8 billion omnibus spending measure, but he said the schedule for the rest of the chamber’s health care debate remained unclear.Reid said he expects to vote on an attempted GOP-led filibuster of the package of six spending bills sometime Saturday and that a final vote on the measure could come Sunday. Though the compilation of bills includes funding for several Cabinet agencies including Commerce, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, and State, it does not include funding for the Defense Department. The Defense measure, which is expected to include a controversial increase in the debt limit, will likely be considered later this month.Reid noted he also expects several votes Thursday evening to deal with Republican objections, or budget points of order, to the omnibus measure.Reid said the “schedule toward the end of the year [on health care] is still somewhat of a jump ball.— Democrats are awaiting a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate on a potential health care reform compromise that could break an internal Democratic impasse over whether to create a public insurance option.Reid dismissed reports that Democrats and Republicans are pushing back against the potential compromise — which was crafted by five liberals and five centrists — saying it “speaks volumes— when people are rushing to oppose something “when they don’t know what’s in it.— Reid and other Democrats have avoided providing details of what’s in the bill until CBO completes its review, but much of the proposed deal has been disclosed in press reports.Reid also disputed the notion that the possible health care accord would not include a public insurance option.Reid blamed Republican procedural delays for the imperative to keep the Senate in session this weekend, saying they have not only been throwing up roadblocks on the health care bill but have also slowed down the appropriations process throughout the year.“They’re doing everything they can to throw a monkey wrench into this thing,— Reid said of the GOP strategy on health care.While Reid had said earlier this week that he hoped to avoid calling Members in for weekend work, Republicans said they would demand debate time on the omnibus spending bill.“Will it require 60 votes to pass this budget-busting bill? Yes it will,— Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a press conference, hinting that Reid will have to file a procedural motion to overcome Republican objections.Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who called the spending measure’s hefty price tag “an outrage,— said he had not decided yet whether he would raise additional points of order that would also require votes over the weekend. McCain dismissed the suggestion that Republican objections to the bill were not well-founded, noting there are more than $3 billion in earmarks included in the measure.“It’s really hard to understand why after being in last week, the majority leader would want to take this weekend off,— said McCain, who earlier Thursday charged Reid was hoping to leave town for a political fundraiser in New Orleans. Reid later dismissed the claim, saying on the floor that, “Any event I had scheduled this weekend has been canceled.—