Reid threatens weekend session to pass food-safety bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) warned colleagues Thursday the Senate would work over the weekend if Republicans delay passage of food-safety legislation.
 
The Senate voted 74-25 Wednesday to move ahead with debate on the bill.
 

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Opponents of the legislation, however, have so far declined to expedite the process for bringing the legislation to the floor, threatening to push it until the week after Thanksgiving. Senate rules require 30 hours to elapse after a vote to end a filibuster, but the Senate can agree to bypass that requirement.
 
“If we have to use up all the time, waste all the time with these 30-hour provisions that are allowed under the Senate procedures, we’re going to have to be here during the weekend,” Reid told colleagues Thursday morning. “This is something we need to get done.”
 
Republicans, however, dismissed the threat, noting it’s the 19th time Reid has threatened a working weekend during the 111th Congress and that he rarely brings those threats to pass. One exception was the end of last year, when he kept the chamber in session continuously to pass healthcare reform.

The Senate will take a weeklong recess for Thanksgiving after this week, and Reid wants to speed up the schedule so he can bring up other bills, including a repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans gay people from openly serving, and the DREAM Act.
 
Senate Democrats will have only four weeks between the Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas Eve to pass unfinished legislation. Their agenda will be much tougher to enact next year when Republicans take control of the House.
 
Democratic leaders want to extend Bush-era tax cuts for middle-class families, extend federal unemployment benefits that begin to run out at the end of this month, and pass an omnibus spending bill to fund the government.
 
Reid has also pledged to bring the defense authorization bill to the Senate floor, which includes a repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” The defense bill has consumed several weeks of floor time in past Congresses.
 
Reid also plans to schedule a vote on the DREAM Act, which would grant permanent residency to the children of illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions.
 
Reid said he would call up the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill.
 
“If there is a bipartisan bill that makes sense for our country economically, from a national security perspective and one that reflects American values, it is the DREAM Act,” Reid said in a statement.
 
“This bill will give children brought illegally to this country at no fault of their own the chance to earn legal status,” he said. “Children brought to this country before the age of 16 who graduate high school, stay out of trouble and go on to serve in the military or to college would be eligible to earn permanent resident status after meeting certain other requirements.”