A New Orleans fundraiser for Sen. Harry Reid has been cancelled as the Senate is expected to remain in session over the weekend to deal with the healthcare bill, according to an official with his campaign. Reid (D-Nev.) was scheduled to attend a Saturday brunch co-hosted by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Democratic consultant James Carville at the New Orleans home of investor David Voelker.
But Republicans were mocking the majority leader ahead of his planned absence from the Capitol.
"Republicans are prepared to provide a platform for the debate as long as it takes," FoxNews.com quoted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as saying. "The majority leader said we'd be working every weekend. We take him at his word. We expect to be here this weekend and we look forward to it."
In response, Reid went on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon to defend against what he called an attempt by Republicans to “embarrass or denigrate” him.
“I think that this debate has really come to a point that I’ve rarely seen in the Senate — in fact, I've never seen it — to have my friends on the other side of the aisle come to the floor and in some way try to embarrass or denigrate me,” Reid said, according to a transcript. “But they should understand, any events I had scheduled this weekend have been canceled. Events I had last weekend had been canceled. Four or five of them.”
Reid said he would never admonish a fellow senator for holding a fundraiser. “I would never, ever intentionally come to the floor and try to talk to somebody about having had a fundraiser and that's why they’re trying to get out of here,” he said. About taking the weekend off, Reid added, “I thought it would be appropriate because we've worked pretty hard here to have a day or two off.”
Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) had been using Reid’s weekend event to link his opponent with national Democrats.
In an e-mail to supporters Thursday, Vitter asked for a $25 or $50 donation to “keep up the fight against” Reid. “I've seen the invitation to this fundraiser. With liberal big name hosts like James Carville, tickets to the event are going for a whopping $1,000 each,” Vitter wrote. “That means for each person in attendance, $1,000 will be dropped into the Obama-Melancon-Reid war chest as they try to take control of the health care industry and give Obama another reliable Senate vote come 2010.”
However, Vitter’s opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), never planned on attending and his campaign said it wasn’t going to receive any of the money raised from Reid’s appearance.