Reid Looks to Score Political Points Before Recess

Posted July 24, 2010 at 3:22pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking to score some political wins over the next two weeks before adjourning for the August break, but Democrats will get a little dirt on their faces in the process.

The Nevada Democrat lined up a procedural vote for Tuesday on campaign finance legislation that so far does not appear to have the backing of the entire Democratic caucus. The DISCLOSE Act, which aims to undo a Supreme Court ruling, includes a controversial provision for the National Rifle Association that is staunchly opposed by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). Republicans widely oppose the bill, and Reid could very well come up short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

If Tuesday’s procedural vote goes down, the chamber could return to the small-business jobs legislation that President Barack Obama wants on his desk for signature by the end of the week. But Reid may choose instead to quickly turn to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, pushing back action on the small-business measure until later in the week.

With just two weeks left until the August break, time is running out and it remains unclear where an energy proposal might fit into the Senate schedule. Blaming Republicans for his decision to officially scrap plans for a broad-based climate change measure this month, Reid said on Thursday that he still intends to bring up a narrow bill focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill next week. Aides were unsure when the measure might see floor action but said that Reid hopes to bring it up this work period.

While uncertainty abounds about next week’s schedule, what remains certain is that Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court will be on the floor the week after next and will be among the last things the Senate does before returning home to campaign.

In the House, Democrats plan to finally take up regular appropriations bills next week after months of delays. The military construction and Veterans Affairs as well as Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bills are expected to come to the floor, which could make for fireworks as Republicans try to make hay over earmarks and spending. Democrats also will finish work on the $60 billion war supplemental and take up a trio of manufacturing bills as part of their new “Make It in America” jobs agenda before skipping town for the long August recess. The House is scheduled to adjourn at the end of next week.