There’s a debate scheduled tonight in Massachusetts between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, in that hotly contested Senate race (C-SPAN will cover it at 7pm ET). But it may not have come off all, if you believe Harry Reid’s statement just now on the Senate floor.
Here’s what Reid just said, in reaction to what he considered stalling tactics on the floor, amid the final days of the legislative session until Election Day:
Madam President, I’m so sorry. We have no more votes today. No more votes today. It’s obvious to me what’s going on. I’ve been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the Senators who doesn’t want to debate tonight won’t be in debate. Well, he can’t use the Senate as an excuse, there will be no more votes today.
Here’s the context. There’s basically only one major item for business on the Senate’s plate – a continuing resolution, already passed by the House, to fund the government for six months, through the end of March 2013. Reid and the Democrats are fiddling around with a couple other bills (including a bipartisan “sportsman’s bill” that appears intended to boost the profile of Jon Tester), but the main order of business is the CR. Reid tried to move to the bill yesterday, but it got mired in a debate about the Bush tax cuts, of which the Senate has already passed their version (extending them on the first $250,000 of income and letting the rest expire).
A motion to proceed on the continuing resolution passed today by a 67-31 count. It appears assured for final passage, and Reid has already filed cloture on the bill. But due to the rules of the Senate, Republicans can draw out cloture for 30 hours of floor time leading up to cloture AND after cloture is invoked, delaying the final vote, which could come on the weekend if no agreement is reached.
Reid wanted to get the sportsman’s bill in as well, and a couple appointments (including the US Ambassador to Iraq), while cloture ripened on the continuing resolution. And he wanted an agreement to get through all of these votes ASAP so the Senate could adjourn. But Republicans sought a vote on a bill by Rand Paul on foreign aid, and a vote on Iran containment from Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham, with hours of debate, before getting to the CR. This would have put the Senate in session all night to get the series of votes done. Reid already agreed to a vote on the Paul bill and the Lieberman-Graham bill, but he objected to this mainly because it left out the Tester sportsman’s bill. But he also appeared to get the message, that an all-night session would mean that Scott Brown would be toiling in Washington, and then miss the debate with Warren tonight.
Brown has been criticized by the Warren campaign for ducking a series of debates. You would think that someone behind in the polls, as Brown now is, would be more excited to debate, but Brown apparently wanted to strike a pose of a diligent Senator doing his important work. Reid short-circuited that with his statement that there will be no roll call votes today. “We’ve had the stall here for several days now,” Reid said on the floor.
So the Brown-Warren debate’s apparently on, after that bit of amusement in the Senate.
Watch Online h/t @GottaLaff