Reid threatens around-the-clock votes through Christmas if GOP won't back down

Senate Democrats are threatening Republicans with midnight and crack-of-dawn votes if they continue to fight the majority on the health-care bill and defense spending legislation.

The Senate Democratic leadership office is advising lawmakers, staff and reporters that if the GOP does not yield back time on the defense spending bill now under consideration, a vote will be scheduled for Friday morning at 1 a.m., with final passage slated for 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would then begin votes on health care reform, but because Republicans are opposed, the three major components of the bill would first have to be filed with the clerk for a certain number of hours, with the first vote possible on Monday at 1 a.m., the second vote on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and the third and final vote on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The Senate will then have to take up the $300 billion debt limit increase the House approved days ago. If Republicans do not agree to quick passage of that bill, Reid will call the Senate back into session the week between Christmas and New Year's, which has never happened in recent history.

Senate Republicans are already pledging to put up a fight, with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., saying he will not consent to any of the legislation and will force Reid to have a Christmas Eve vote on health care reform. DeMint said he will also force Reid to bring the Senate back after Christmas to deal with the debt limit legislation.

“No one besides Harry Reid has even seen the bill,” DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said. “If Democrats won't read their own bill, they'll be forced to have every page read to them on the Senate floor. Americans have rejected this government takeover of health care, and Republicans will do whatever is possible to stop them from ramming this through before Christmas.”

Democrats say Republicans are simply trying to block passage of the health care bill at any cost.

“They have objected to almost everything we have tried to do thus far and continues their trend of playing politics and obstructing over the needs of the American people,” Reid spokesperson Regan LaChapelle said. “They would rather say no then help unemployed workers, families in need, and sadly even provide funding to our troops.”

Beltway ConfidentialUS

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