With a goal of wrapping up work for the year in coming days, the Senate will move to confirm President Obama’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security on Monday and next take the first steps on a bipartisan budget deal that was easily approved by the House last week.
The Senate convened for a rare meeting on Sunday, but took no votes, as the twenty minute session was more about setting up the legislative process to finalize a series of items before a Christmas break.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used Sunday’s session to lay the parliamentary groundwork on two major bills – the budget deal and a defense policy bill – as he moved to block any amendments to those plans and filed cloture petitions to shut off debate and force final action later this week.
The Sunday session came after Republicans kept the Senate in for two all-night sessions last week to protest the pre-Thanksgiving changes made to water down the rules governing filibusters; but a cease fire was called over the weekend, allowing most Senators to leave Washington until a series of votes set for Monday evening.
On the budget, a number of GOP Senators are staying on the fence as of now, lending a slight air of drama on who will vote for the deal, which won easy approval in the House on a vote of 332-94.
“Most Americans work in circumstances where they’ve got to compromise,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), as most Democrats seemed ready to rally around the plan – while Republicans were more circumspect.
“Where there’s hope, there’s progress; where there’s progress, there’s hope,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who was one of a number of Republicans not yet ready to reveal which they might vote on the budget.
The Senate will vote on Tuesday morning to shut off debate on the budget deal. We’ll see if Congress is ready to go home with some accomplishments, or if things will spiral the wrong way in the days before Christmas.