Reid Expects Votes to Begin Earlier Than Originally Scheduled

Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:43pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested that votes could be moved up Tuesday because of an oncoming snowstorm and said that the chamber might not be in session Wednesday.

“The issue before the Senate today is what we do with Mother Nature,” Reid said, noting the piles of snow that have blanketed the Capitol.
“We are contemplating, if we can work out the procedural difficulties, not being in session tomorrow,” he added. Reid also said he would move up votes on a pair of Obama administration nominees Tuesday.

The votes on a procedural motion for the nomination of Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board and on the confirmation of judge Joseph Greenaway to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, but they have now been scheduled for 4 p.m.

Reid also maintained the Senate would clear a pending jobs package before adjourning for a weeklong Presidents Day recess, with debate beginning Thursday and a vote on final passage Friday. But Republicans have yet to sign on to that timeline or to the jobs package itself.

“The dilemma we currently have on the proposal that the Majority Leader is referring to is that I believe it is the case that not all members of the Finance Committee are fully aware of what the package may look like,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor Tuesday. “We also don’t have an entire Conference that understands it yet.”

McConnell added: “My Members need to be able to feel like they understand what they are being called upon to support. So the sooner we could get the parameters of the final package, I think the better.”

Earlier Tuesday, Reid told reporters, “We expect to introduce the bill today.” He did not detail what would be in the legislation but did say it would include an extension of the Highway Trust Fund and would not include a provision dealing with the estate tax. The measure would also likely include language to extend various tax provisions and parts of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Despite the uncertainty, Reid did lay out a procedural road map: He said the chamber would take up a House-passed jobs bill already on the calendar, which would serve as a shell bill, and that the Senate jobs package would later take the form of a substitute amendment to that legislation, either “bipartisan or not so bipartisan.”

A Republican leadership aide said Tuesday that a number of GOP lawmakers are still having trouble getting back to Washington, D.C., and that it is unclear whether they will be back when the votes are scheduled to begin. Many flights were canceled in the wake of the weekend blizzard that blanketed the city with two feet of snow.