The Senate is scheduled to work late into the night Thursday to pass a defense bill, but one member is begging the world's most deliberative body to finish its work in time to get him home to his wife.
"It happens that tomorrow is my 54th wedding anniversary," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said Wednesday. "I would really like to ask both the majority and the minority if we couldn't yield back a little bit of time."
The Senate is slated to work on the bill until a vote around 11 p.m., but if members of both parties were willing to voluntarily truncate debate, the vote could occure earlier and get Inhofe home.
"So have mercy, give us a break and let's try to get this thing voted on and go home and Merry Christmas to everybody."
2013 has been a particularly difficult year for Inhofe. He underwent emergency heart surgery in October, and in November his son died in a plane crash. Inhofe didn't mention either event in his plea to the Senate, instead focusing on his anniversary plans.
"I would sure like those 20 kids and grandkids that are waiting for me—for our big dinner … tomorrow night," he said.
Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the steward of the National Defense Authorization Act. Passing the bill before year's end is necessary to prevent a lapse in critical national security initiatives, including combat pay, military-pay increases, resources for troops in Afghanistan, and counterterrorism measures.
Inhofe, together with Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, has worked to move the bill via an expedited process in order to wrap up the measure before Congress adjourns for the year.
That streamlined process, however, did not allow for amendments to the defense measure, which raised the ire of Republicans who are still smarting over Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to pare back minority filibuster rights on executive nominees.
In retaliation, Republicans have at times focused on stretching out debate as long as possible in recent weeks, but Inhofe asked that those differences be put aside.
"I would really like to ask both the majority and the minority if we couldn't yield back a little bit of time," he said. "We know we are going to have the votes for this [bill]."
Updated at 9:00 p.m.
Inhofe's plea for an earlier vote has been rejected, largely by his Republican colleagues, and the Oklahoman is none-too-pleased about it.
"Today is my 54th wedding anniversary," Inhofe said Thursday evening. "We had a big thing planned tonight, which I had everybody there, all 20 kids and grandkids. And they're just wasting time of course, they are not doing anything, so I came up here to see if maybe there might be a strategy that we could do it."
But fellow Republican Jeff Sessions was unmoved by Inhofe's plea, as were other party members frustrated by their inability to offer amendments.
"Sen. Inhofe well knows there are soldiers in Afghanistan right now on their anniversary," he said, adding he didn't expect Republicans to agree to vote sooner than the late vote that was intiially scheduled.
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