December 21, 2005


In Still-Busy Senate, Showdown Is Today (CARL HULSE, 12/21/05, NY Times)

Some are calling it Fristmastime on Capitol Hill.

Five days before the holiday, the Senate remains at work, poised for decisive votes Wednesday on major legislation. The results will determine whether the Congressional session ends on a triumphal note for Republicans, or whether Democrats will celebrate blocking Republican priorities like Arctic oil drilling and spending cuts.

"It is make it or break it," Senator Mel Martinez of Florida said Tuesday as he left a closed lunch where Republicans, led by the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, had laid out strategy for the next 24 hours. [...]

The crucial votes now at hand deal not only with Arctic oil drilling and budget cuts but also with wartime military spending, Pentagon policy, and education and health care appropriations. Both parties have been marshaling their forces, making certain all senators will be on hand Wednesday. Democrats checked Tuesday on the status of Senators Jon Corzine, who is busy preparing to take office as governor of New Jersey, and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, who is recovering from knee surgery. Vice President Dick Cheney cut short a trip to South Asia and the Middle East so that he would be present if his vote was needed to break any ties.

Veteran legislators say that preholiday theater is not unusual and that Congressional leaders often use the calendar to try to enact measures that would never pass otherwise.

"I have been here 27 years, including, I think, two of those years on Christmas Eve," said Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia. "I actually observed fisticuffs between two of the most respected Republican senators ever to serve in this body on Christmas Eve."

As for Mr. Frist, he said he had no problem with working this close to the holiday.

"I used to be a surgeon," he said. "People got sick all the time on the 20th, the 21st."

If you ever wondered how the Democrats went from the majority to 40%, just look at what "victory" would mean for them and how it defines their party: more spending, higher taxes and gas prices, and weaker national security.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 21, 2005 7:52 AM

Forget the 20th and 21st - pull every trigger on the morning of the 24th, including the constitutional option.

Force committee votes on all the sub-SCOTUS nominations that are languishing. And, just to top it off, vote on victory in Iraq. Make Hillary and Biden and Feingold and Durbin and Cantwell and the rest vote "no".

Make them squeal.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 21, 2005 8:17 AM