Reid warns senators' work could eat into August recess

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned colleagues the Senate might have to eat into its summer recess to deal with pressing issues.

Reid said Tuesday he’d warned senators not to plan much vacationing during the first week in August, when Congress typically breaks for a monthlong district work period.

“I also told my caucus — I haven’t had a chance to tell Sen. [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] today — I said there’s no definite decision been made yet, but the first week of our vacation in August, don’t put family vacations in there or something that you can’t get out of, because we may have to be here,” Reid said.

The top Senate Democrat’s admonition comes as the Senate works to finish its leading legislative priority, Wall Street reform, as quickly as possible before a recess around Memorial Day.

Reid’s words may serve as a jolt to those hoping for a less aggressive legislative agenda in the coming months prior to what’s expected to be a tough midterm election in November for Democrats.

“I said one week in August,” Reid responded when asked if senators could stay in Washington any longer than that.

Reid has an incentive of his own to finish up legislative business as quickly as possible, with a tough reelection challenge to fight off back in Nevada.

The August recess is prime time for campaigning, and Reid appears set to barnstorm the state throughout August and the rest of the fall in his push to hang on to his seat.

This Congress has seen shifting deadlines in the Senate, especially on healthcare, throughout the past year and a half, and lawmakers have worked long nights and weekends, especially close to holidays. The Senate, for instance, voted on Christmas Eve morning to pass its preliminary health reform bill.

Reid has been quick to make other threats before when it comes to scheduling, just last week planning overnight and weekend work on financial reform legislation until Republicans dropped their objections to proceeding with Wall Street reform. He has also threatened to hold the Senate in extra sessions, only to back down.

Still on the agenda, following financial reform, are some emergency spending measures, as well as, in the longer term, an energy and climate bill and a possible comprehensive immigration reform effort.