Trying to get all he can out of a lame duck session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening to continue his session through January 4th.
In published reports, Reid vows the Senate will return after Christmas if necessary in order to address a number of what they consider loose ends – a deal struck to maintain the present tax rates for two more years in exchange for extending unemployment benefits for several more months and an omnibus spending bill to run the government through September 30, 2011 chief among them. Also included in the fast and furious agenda is the DREAM Act providing benefits for illegal aliens, the START treaty with Russia, the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for homosexuals in the military, and a huge land grab covering millions of acres which would become federally protected. All this could conceivably come to a head a full two months after Democratic control of all levers of government was repudiated at the ballot box (although the Senate remains in Democratic hands by a considerably smaller margin.)
It was last year about this time that the focus was on passing Obamacare, which passed one of its major legislative hurdles on a Christmas Eve vote. Why wouldn’t it surprise me to see the same thing happen this year? To be a member of Congress these days is to have not-so-happy holidays, with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi playing the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Scrooge. If you’re a taxpaying American you’re getting the lumps of coal in your stocking once again.
Never mind the fact that Congress had the better part of two years to address most of these issues, but holding court until almost the day the new members are sworn in is pretty rare – most recent sessions have come to an end well before Christmas. Even when the Republicans ceded control of Congress in 2006 (under a Republican president) they completed their duties by December 22.
But the Democrats have milked the sessions to regularly bump up against Christmas, presumably figuring the public wouldn’t pay much attention to what they passed at the last minute. Among other things, this practice was part of what we rebelled against on November 2.
Unfortunately, Senator Reid not only survived a spirited challenge from Sharron Angle – with the help of a massive GOTV effort from Las Vegas casinos who convinced their workers that Reid needed to stay – but got to keep his leadership position in the Senate as Republicans couldn’t run the electoral table. (In truth, the numbers game was going to make that difficult anyway since this year’s crop was mainly elected in the Republican boom year of 2004. The tables are turned in 2012 as a host of Democrats will be up for re-election.) Regardless, Reid will continue to play the schemer with a smaller majority in his corner over the next two years and a hostile House sending him legislation to bottle up.
So we will have to remain vigilant right on through the holidays, just in time for a new Congressional session to begin and the ’90 Days of Terror’ known as the Maryland General Assembly session to commence as well. Those who crave their freedom are beginning to realize it’s a full-time job to protect what’s theirs since those who oppose us aren’t willing to give up their power easily or happily.
Obviously Harry Reid doesn’t know the meaning of ‘no’ and it will be up to the 42 or so Republicans in the Senate to stand together and teach him that lesson.