A late entry nod for Political Headline of the Year should probably go to Politico for this one: Harry Reid threatens recess, Christmas.
Congress usually heads out of town on recess after the second week of December, returning to swear in the new class in January. (For all of you who don’t get four weeks off with pay around the holidays every year, I suggest you form an exploratory committee at once.) But we’re in another one of those transitional periods for the Senate where the lame ducks probably want to score as many points as possible before sinking into the minority, while the new majority won’t be interested in much beyond basic housekeeping and ensuring the lights stay on until their new members are sworn in. Harry Reid, it seems, is not willing to let the ship go down without at least threatening a fight.
“We may have to be here a third week and everyone should understand that. Our most important task at hand is to pass bills to fund out government, keep it from shutting down,” Reid said on Monday afternoon shortly after the Senate began its last work period of the 113th Congress.
“We have a lot to do. And there isn’t much time to accomplish it. I urge all senators to work hard to complete our work in a timely and efficient fashion. We may have to be here the week before Christmas … and hopefully, not into the Christmas holiday,” he added.
There is certainly a list of tasks to be done. The problem is that the new Republican majority is going to have zero interest in voting on anything that stretches on for years until their new members are seated. They need a spending bill – the current one expires Dec. 11 – which will need to see them through at least February, but Reid would no doubt like one for a full year or more. They also need a new defense spending authorization bill, which is normally a bit of an easier lift, but with all the controversy swirling around the new Secretary of Defense choice and our strategy for both ISIS and Afghanistan it may not be a walk in the park. A few of the other items like expired tax credits and the internet tax moratorium could probably wait until January or February without causing too much pain, but on the former two items these folks are going to have to put something on the President’s desk or risk turning the new session into a joke before it even begins.
Care to take odds on this one? I think they’ll pass a stopgap measure in time to go home and watch football, but there will be a lot of posing first.