Reid warns of long days, weekend work

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned senators that they might have to work long hours and weekends during the next two weeks.

“I know I often say it, but we may really have to work the next couple weekends,” Reid said on the Senate floor Monday.

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The Senate has been out of town for the past two-weeks for a Thanksgiving recess but will be in session for the next two weeks before adjourning for the rest of the year — the House leaves at the end of this week. Reid threatened to keep the Senate in session during the week of Christmas if necessary.

Reid listed several things he wants to finish up during this brief work month, including the national defense authorization bill, sanctions against Iran, confirming executive nominees and passing a budget.

“We must replace meat-ax cuts with smart savings, reducing the deficit by closing wasteful tax loopholes, and make job-creating investments that spur economic growth,” Reid said. “I hope Republicans and Democrats can put aside our differences, and work together to produce results for the middle class.”

The Budget Conference Committee is expected to report back to both chambers before Friday if a deal is possible. House Republicans want major cuts in domestic programs, while Democrats want to replace sequester cuts by increasing taxes through closing loopholes for corporations and the wealthy.

“These loopholes are so big you could drive the biggest vehicle in the world through them,” Reid said.

He also recommended using nearly $1 trillion in contingency funds for the Iraq and Afghan wars that are winding down.

“I don’t understand why the Republicans refuse to use these funds,” Reid said.

If a budget is passed, appropriators would have until mid-January to produce an omnibus spending bill.