Why Working Monday Through Friday Is a Tall Order in the Senate

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2nd L), followed by Democratic senators and representatives, emerge from the Senate side of the Capitol building as they march down the steps to speak out against what they say is Republican abuse of power May 18, 2005.
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Michael Catalin
Nov. 1, 2013, 10:59 a.m.

Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id star­ted the week with mod­est plans for the Sen­ate: work Monday through Fri­day. Sounds straight­for­ward enough, but the sched­ule got de­railed along the way. And the Sen­ate checked out Fri­day.

Here’s what happened. On Monday, Re­id pre­viewed the four-week ses­sion ahead of Thanks­giv­ing, say­ing the Sen­ate would tackle a num­ber of nom­in­a­tions, the Em­ploy­ee Non-Dis­crim­in­a­tion Act, and drug-com­pound­ing le­gis­la­tion.

Sound­ing a bit like a school teach­er warn­ing class that so many les­sons need to be com­pleted be­fore the test, Re­id said sen­at­ors have to get used to work­ing Mondays and Fri­days.

“If we are go­ing to fin­ish our work in this 4-week peri­od, that means we are go­ing to have to work on Mondays and Fri­days. I hope we don’t have to work week­ends, but we have to get this work done,” Re­id said.

To show how ser­i­ous he was about the work­load, Re­id sched­uled a vote for Monday.

But it was not to be. With five sen­at­ors ab­sent, Re­id said, on Monday the vote to con­firm Richard Griffin as gen­er­al coun­sel to the Na­tion­al Labor Re­la­tions Board was pushed to Tues­day.

And work on Fri­day? No.

Re­id’s of­fice said Re­pub­lic­an in­ter­fer­ence ex­plains not be­ing in ses­sion on Fri­day. In­stead of de­bat­ing the non-dis­crim­in­a­tion bill Fri­day, Re­id was forced to file clo­ture be­cause of Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion, spokes­man Adam Jentleson said. Be­fore the pro­ced­ur­al vote can oc­cur, Sen­ate rules re­quire an in­ter­ven­ing day — in this case, Fri­day — un­less both sides agree to waive it.

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans re­but­ted that ac­count, say­ing both sides agreed to hold the clo­ture vote Monday, ac­cord­ing to Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell’s spokes­man, Mi­chael Bru­mas.

The Sen­ate is out un­til 2 p.m. Monday, with votes on ju­di­cial nom­in­a­tions ex­pec­ted at 5:30 p.m. If Re­id’s ad­mon­i­tions go heeded, the vote next week will go ahead.

“It is ob­vi­ous Sen­at­ors aren’t mak­ing these Monday votes a pri­or­ity,” Re­id said Monday. “We have a lot of people not show­ing up. “¦ I think we have be­come very com­pla­cent and not wor­ry­ing about the Monday night votes.”

Still, the Sen­ate had eight roll call votes this week, two of those to con­firm ad­min­is­tra­tion nom­in­ees. Next week votes are ex­pec­ted on oth­er nom­in­a­tions as well as on the non-dis­crim­in­a­tion act.

The Nevada Demo­crat also eagerly and reg­u­larly points out the House’s work­ing sched­ule, es­pe­cially when it con­sists of few­er days in ses­sion than the Sen­ate’s.

“I have enough trouble with my sched­ule, but I just have to briefly

com­ment on the House sched­ule,” Re­id said earli­er this week. “They are go­ing to work un­til noon on Wed­nes­day and then they are tak­ing off the next 10 days. From now un­til the first of the year, they have sched­uled 18 work­ing days. That is all I will say on that.”

What We're Following See More »
Morning Consult Poll: Clinton Decisively Won Debate
2 days ago

"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."

Trump Draws Laughs, Boos at Al Smith Dinner
3 days ago

After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."

McMullin Leads in New Utah Poll
3 days ago

Evan McMul­lin came out on top in a Emer­son Col­lege poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clin­ton took third with 24%. Gary John­son re­ceived 5% of the vote in the sur­vey.

Quinnipiac Has Clinton Up by 7
3 days ago

A new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll finds Hillary Clin­ton lead­ing Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” van­ished from the uni­versity’s early Oc­to­ber poll. A new PPRI/Brook­ings sur­vey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a vir­tu­al dead heat, with Trump tak­ing 41% of the vote to Clin­ton’s 40% in a four-way match­up.

Trump: I’ll Accept the Results “If I Win”
3 days ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.