Senate

Reid scolds senators for showing up late to votes

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) complained on Thursday that senators were showing up late to votes, and warned he would no longer continue to hold them open to accommodate stragglers regardless of party affiliation.

“I'm giving fair warning to everyone,” said Reid. "We've gotten very nonchalant about coming to vote." 

On Wednesday, however, Reid — along with most of the Senate Democratic leadership — showed up about 25 minutes late to a cloture vote on the Veterans Administration funding bill.

"It's not fair to everyone else who gets here on time," said Reid on Thursday. "So everyone is on notice, we're going to cut the votes off at 20 minutes. People come straggling in eight, 10 minutes late. That's not going to work anymore. It will affect Democrats and Republicans." 

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Senate quells Sessions protest against VA apropos bill

The Senate voted 56 - 40 on Thursday to crush a point-of-order protest Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) leveled against the Veteran Affairs (VA) appropriations bill currently pending on the Senate floor.

In the hours leading up to the vote, Sessions, who is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee argued that budgetary rules prohibit the Senate from taking up appropriations work without first passing a budget.

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Feinstein bill would limit political robocalls, allow legal action against robocallers

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would restrict political "robocalls" and require robocallers to identify themselves when calling potential voters. It would also allow lawsuits against robocallers who abuse the rules.

"Throughout recent elections, we have continued to hear stories about people being inundated with phone calls throughout the day and night," Feinstein said. "There is simply no good reason why Americans wanting a good night's sleep should be awakened at 4:30 in the morning by a robocall."

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Sessions attempts to derail VA funding bill until a budget is passed

Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Thursday attempted to halt further proceedings on the Veteran Affairs (VA) appropriations bill arguing that budgetary rules prohibit the Senate from taking up appropriations work without first passing a budget.

In response, Democratic Senate leadership scheduled two procedural votes for Thursday afternoon that are designed to overcome Session's objection.

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Corker: Most senators are ‘two-bit pawns’

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Thursday said the Senate is frozen and unable to pass a budget because most of his colleagues are nothing more than “two-bit pawns” already looking ahead to the 2012 elections.

“Basically most senators in this body are nothing but two-bit pawns … as a political fight is under way, basically, to lay out the groundwork, if you will, for a 2012 election,” said Corker from the floor.

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Reid: Cantor acted ‘childish’ and shouldn’t be at the negotiation table

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) acted "childish" in the debt talks.

He is the the latest Democratic leader to accuse Cantor of impeding progress on negotiations to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. 

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table,” Reid said from the Senate floor. 

“We had negotiations going here in a room, S-219, a short jog from here, and he has walked out on the meetings with the vice president of the United States,” said the majority leader, recounting Cantor’s recent exit from the talks hosted by Vice President Biden. “It was childish.”

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Sen. Nelson seeks to protect Social Security payments with new Treasury authority

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would give the Treasury Department limited authority to issue enough securities to pay Social Security benefits in August if the debt limit is reached.

Nelson's bill, the Social Security Benefit Protection Act, is a reaction to comments from President Obama that he "cannot guarantee" that Social Security payments would be made on time if a debt-ceiling agreement is not reached by Aug. 3.

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Schumer: McConnell plan is ‘political'

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday both praised and criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) proposal to raise the debt ceiling.

“The substantive good news here is that the plan that Mitch McConnell offered, for its faults, makes the likelihood ... of not paying our bills … less likely,” said Schumer, who then criticized the plan as having "a good deal of fault to it."

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Senate votes to take up Veterans Affairs spending bill

The Senate voted to open debate on the Veteran Affairs appropriations bill Wednesday in a 89-11 vote.

H.R. 2055, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Related Agencies appropriations bill, increases funding for the VA by 5.8 percent and cuts military construction spending by $2.6 billion to reflect anticipated base closures and realignments.

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