Storms nearly derail Senate session
Vicious thunderstorms that ripped across the region Thursday morning nearly derailed a special session of the Senate designed to approve a $600 billion bill to improve border security.
With the rest of the Senate adjourned last week for the annual August break, Sens. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), from nearby Baltimore County, and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed to oversee a brief session Thursday to approve the legislation by voice vote, after the House approved the same legislation Tuesday. Cardin said he was awoken by the thunderstorms, and then had to make his way in his decades-old Pontiac around the area's roads, down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and finally onto Capitol Hill in a slow-moving waltz through the morning rush hour.
"This time of year, it usually takes an hour. Today, it took two [hours] -- we got the bill done, that's what matters," Cardin said after the 30-minute session closed.
Schumer had an even more difficult route to Washington, as he had scheduled an early morning Delta shuttle flight out of LaGuardia Airport in New York. The border legislation was Schumer's, and he desperately wanted to be on hand to see its passage. Instead, he waited and waited, as the plane was left on the tarmac. Other flights that were in the air bound for Reagan National Airport were turned around. Finally, after an hour or so wait, Schumer's flight took off, he landed at National and an aide whisked him up to the Capitol just in time for the 10 a.m. start.
"So I got here at 5 of 10," Schumer explained afterward.
For Cardin, this was commute was nothing compared to his drive down to the Capitol during a pre-Christmas blizzard when the Senate was holding an early morning vote on a Pentagon spending bill, attempting to clear the decks for consideration of the health-care reform bill. Cardin's Pontiac -- with more than 150,000 miles on it -- would not get the job done, so his chief of staff picked up his boss in a farm truck and barreled down the B-W Parkway, getting to the Capitol just in time.
-- Paul Kane
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