Reid: No Recess Until Stimulus Is Done
By Ben Pershing
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just kicked off today's debate on the economic stimulus package by reiterating what most lawmakers, aides and reporters already expected and/or dreaded: The Senate will stay in Washington until a stimulus conference report has passed.
"We're not going to leave for Presidents' Day recess until we complete this," Reid said, though he expressed confidence that "there is every opportunity for us to complete [the stimulus] by Friday."
Assuming the measure gets the 60 votes needed to move forward this evening, a vote on final passage will happen at noon tomorrow. That would give the two chambers three days to reconcile two bills that spend more than $800 billion apiece, run to hundreds of pages and contain billions of dollars in differences. Once a deal is done, both chambers would then have to debate and vote all over again.
Given those hurdles, a weekend session looks more likely than a Friday finish. House Democratic leadership sources say members in that chamber already know that they are likely to be in session this weekend.
No matter how the stimulus measure turns out, one party will almost surely be disappointed -- the Sunlight Foundation. The group said today that "the House and Senate should each ensure that lawmakers and citizens alike have at least 72 hours of online access to the Stimulus Bill before its final consideration."
There is simply no chance that will happen, given the short time frame both chambers will be working with this week. In a process like this, crafters of legislation usually have to choose between transparency and speed, and it's clear in this case that leaders have chosen the latter.
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