What Working on the Weekend in the Senate Is Really Like

<p>The Senate was in this weekend, but the halls were largely empty.</p>
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
Michael Catalin
Oct. 6, 2013, 7:35 a.m.

Empty sub­way cars trundle from the Cap­it­ol to the of­fice build­ings with a whoosh straight out of a Star Wars movie. Foot­falls re­ver­ber­ate loudly off the white-stone walls in the Rus­sell Build­ing. Gil­ded el­ev­at­ors bong and open their doors — no need for the usu­al Sen­ate two-step be­cause there’s no one in­side.

While the Sen­ate was open for busi­ness this week­end, all the activ­ity at­tend­ing a nor­mal le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion was largely ab­sent.

It was so quiet that Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., had time to squeeze in a reg­u­lar doc­tor’s ap­point­ment with a phys­i­cian in the Cap­it­ol.

An aide said that some re­port­ers thought Re­id was secretly head­ing to House Speak­er John Boehner’s of­fice, or per­haps to meet with Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell. But this was just a reg­u­lar checkup — and noth­ing’s the mat­ter with Re­id, the aide said.

For Mc­Con­nell, the slug­gish sched­ule af­forded him a chance to get back to Ken­tucky, where he faces stout polit­ic­al op­pos­i­tion on the right from busi­ness­man Matt Bev­in, and the left from Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes. That he wasn’t in the Cap­it­ol also sug­gests the level of dis­agree­ment between cham­bers and the dif­fi­culty of a deal.

“He is meet­ing with con­stitu­ents, but re­mains in con­tact with his mem­bers and is avail­able if a vote is called at any time this week­end,” said spokes­man Mi­chael Bru­mas in an email.

Many of the sen­at­ors in the Cap­it­ol were ju­ni­or Demo­crat­ic mem­bers, tapped to preside over the Sen­ate. For ex­ample, Fresh­man Sen. An­gus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Demo­crats, rushed onto the sub­way from Dirk­sen, pre­pared to give a floor speech, then preside over the cham­ber.

But there were Re­pub­lic­ans, too. Sen Mike Lee of Utah sparred over the shut­down from the well of the Sen­ate with his Demo­crat­ic col­leagues, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine offered a pro­pos­al she thought could serve as a polit­ic­al es­cape hatch for both sides, re­peal­ing the med­ic­al device tax (for Re­pub­lic­ans) and of­fer­ing agen­cies flex­ib­il­ity in ap­ply­ing se­quest­ra­tion cuts (for Demo­crats).

There were no votes Sat­urday, but there was par­tis­an rhet­or­ic from the floor. Clearly ex­as­per­ated at how dug in her col­leagues are, yet still op­tim­ist­ic about break­ing the im­passe, Collins sug­ges­ted sheath­ing the rhet­or­ic­al dag­gers.

“I think the more people who are will­ing to put ideas out there — and if not mine, someone else’s — the bet­ter,” Collins said.

The Sen­ate re­turns at 2 p.m. Monday, with votes on ju­di­cial nom­in­ees later in the even­ing. The Sen­ate might also take up the House-passed mini-con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion provid­ing for back-pay for fed­er­al work­ers, aides say.

But Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans will also pick up the fight over the shut­down where they left off — dug in as ever.

“This isn’t a date to the prom,” Re­id said re­cently, ex­plain­ing why Demo­crats won’t of­fer Re­pub­lic­ans a face-sav­ing pro­vi­sion. “This is our coun­try.”

What We're Following See More »
23 MILLION FEWER INSURED IN 2026
Congressional Budget Office Scores House Trumpcare Bill
2 hours ago
BREAKING

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.

Source:
GOP DISCORD
Graham Rejects Trump’s Budget In Hearing
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.

Source:
PREFERS “CLEAN” BILL
Mnuchin Looks To Avoid Debt Ceiling Fight
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
“THAT’S THE GOAL”
McConnell Not Sure How To Get 50 Votes For Health Care
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
×
×

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.

Login