Senate honors cowboys, cowgirls

Minutes before adjourning for an abbreviated recess Thursday night, the Senate cleared a bipartisan resolution to recognize the contributions of cowboys and cowgirls to American life.

The measure designates July 23 as “National Day of the American Cowboy.”

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The move came as Democrats and Republicans bickered over debt talks and Republicans delayed a vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) objected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) request for unanimous consent to allow the Libya procedure to move forward.

Johnson is upset about the lack of a Senate budget; his objection means the Libya measure will be subject to a procedural vote on Tuesday.

The GOP has ripped Democrats for not producing a 2012 budget, which Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) says he will do next week.

Besides the cowboy measure, the Senate on Thursday approved a number of nominations, including confirming Ryan Crocker as ambassador to Afghanistan and Gen. David Petaeus as CIA director.

The measure on cowboys and cowgirls states that the Senate "encourages the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” It was co-sponsored by Reid.

Cowboys dodged at least one lasso earlier this year when the House Republicans’ budget, which would have eliminated money that the National Endowment for the Humanities uses to fund an annual cowboy poetry festival, failed in the Senate.

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Reid defended the festival against Republicans' "mean spirited" budget back in March.

“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1, eliminates the National Endowment for the Humanities," he said in a floor speech. "These programs create jobs. The National Endowment for the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”

The Senate shortened its planned July 4 recess and will return to work on Tuesday as the Aug. 2 deadline for extending the debt ceiling approaches.