Reid Threatens to Postpone August Recess

Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:33pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) put Senators on notice Tuesday that they should not plan any vacations for first week of the August recess.

“There’s no definite decision been made yet, but the first week of our vacation in August, don’t put family vacations in there or something that you can’t get out of, because we may have to be here,” Reid said he told Democratic Senators on Tuesday. The Senate is currently scheduled to start its monthlong summer break on Aug. 9.

Reid made the comments when explaining why he is insisting that the Senate complete work on a financial regulatory reform bill by the end of next week.

“We have no choice but to finish by next week,” said Reid, who has threatened to keep Senators working beyond scheduled recess periods in the past.

He noted that he wants the Senate to act on two supplemental spending bills, a food safety measure, a tax extenders conference report and a small-business job creation bill before the Memorial Day recess.

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hinted that Reid might not get the 60 votes that he needs to avoid a filibuster of the reform package if he pushes debate to completion by the end of next week.

“I don’t think this is a couple-of-weeks bill,” McConnell told reporters. “All of my Members think we ought to pass a bill, so we — it’s not that we don’t want to pass it, but we do want to cover the subject. And there are a number of important amendments to be offered dealing with the consumer protection, with the government-sponsored enterprises, with derivatives and the rest. And this is a serious piece of legislation before us that needs to be addressed in a serious way.”

Reid also said the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could “spur” quicker action on climate change legislation because it highlights the need to move the country away from dependence on fossil fuels.

“Rather than slow us up, I think it should expedite our doing energy legislation,” he said.

Reid has indicated he may bring up a climate change bill this year.

McConnell dodged a question about whether the oil spill and a recent West Virginia mining explosion endangered energy policy based on fossil fuels.

“I think we’re concentrating right now on this disaster, and we’ll turn to comprehensive energy legislation later in the year. But everybody right now is consumed with the current problem,” McConnell said. “And we’ll have to deal with … the broad energy question later.”