Dem leaders mull another Nov. recess

Congressional leaders are discussing whether to stay home an extra week in November because of Veterans' Day.

Veterans’ Day falls on a Wednesday (Nov. 11) this year, so if Congress stayed in, lawmakers would have to leave and return to Washington to finish out the week. Many members prefer being in their districts for Veterans' Day observances.

"It's a lot of travel time. We are considering whether it makes any sense to be in session that week," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "I'm going to be talking to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about that."

But that would turn the congressional calendar for November into swiss cheese at a time when Congress is expected to be rushing to finish healthcare reform before the end of the year. There will be only one week between the Veterans’ Day week and Thanksgiving week. And the week before Veterans’ Day includes Election Day, another day when many members will want to be back in their districts.

The Senate is scheduled to take a recess during the week of Columbus Day, Oct. 12 to Oct. 16. The House is not.

But Reid has already threatened to cancel the Columbus Day recess if Republicans slow floor debate on appropriations bills and other issues. Reid has repeatedly voiced frustration over GOP  efforts to slow floor proceedings.

In the House, Republicans are complaining that the Democrats who run the chamber are slow-walking bills in order to pad the calendar and keep members in Washington for discussions on healthcare.

House Democrats have already canceled several days of votes and seem to have trouble filling their schedule, spending hours on bills where there is little partisan disagreement.

The two chambers originally set a target to adjourn by the end of October. But it is widely understood that won't happen, and Congress could stay in session until near Christmas to finish its work on healthcare legislation.

Congressional leaders have generally avoided setting deadlines for votes on healthcare in their chambers, except to say they expect to finish it before the end of 2009.