Senate Democrats are seriously weighing whether to leave town at the end of next week, instead of staying in session until Oct. 7 or Oct. 8, as had been anticipated.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (D-Ill.) said Democrats might pass a stop-gap spending measure to keep government funded beyond Sept. 30 and then go back to their home states to campaign.
“We have a very limited amount of time,” Durbin told reporters. “In fact, we may only have another week or ten days before we adjourn, and I know we have to pass a continuing resolution and there will be other issues that come up.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) shot down reports Tuesday the House was considering adjourning at the end of the week.
“We’re going be in session next week,” he said. He acknowledged the election pressure. “There’s nobody here that doubts that members, Republicans and Democrats, would like to be in their districts talking to their constituents. After all, they have to ask them to be rehired,” Hoyer said.
Meanwhile, as of noon Tuesday, it appeared Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.) did not have the 60 votes necessary to begin debate on a defense authorization bill that includes a repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which bars gays from serving openly in the military.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent Democrat from Connecticut who has led the fight on repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” said he was not optimistic that Democrats could cut off a Republican filibuster.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (Maine), a crucial Republican swing vote who favors repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, told colleagues Tuesday that she would not vote to begin debate on the defense measure unless Reid allows votes on an array of GOP amendments.
Durbin, holding out hope for a compromise, said Reid has not yet ruled out that possibility.
Democrats had planned to debate extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush before leaving for the campaign trail. It now appears that debate will be compressed.
Durbin told reporters it is possible amendments extending all of the Bush-era tax cuts or making permanent only the middle-class tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 would be offered to the stop-gap government funding measure.
Durbin was not optimistic that lawmakers would spend much more time on the defense bill before the election if the effort to kill the GOP filibuster fails.
“If we fail today, whether or not we can get back to this bill will depend on whether some agreement can be reached with Republicans very quickly,” he said.
Durbin said the defense authorization bill would certainly come up for consideration during the lame-duck session after Nov. 2.
— Russell Berman contributed to this article.