Reid cancels Senate floor votes to force Scott Brown to debate Elizabeth Warren

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced there would not be additional votes Thursday so Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) would not have an excuse to skip a debate with Elizabeth Warren.

Brown told reporters that he might skip a scheduled debate with his Democratic opponent if Senate votes ran late. A new University of Massachusetts Lowell/Boston Herald poll showed Brown with a four-point lead but four previous polls showed Warren leading.

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Democrats said Republicans appeared to be slow-walking the votes to give Brown an excuse to miss the debate. Missing the debate would save Brown from having to answer difficult questions about Mitt Romney’s controversial remarks about the 47 percent of America he believes is mired in a sense of victimhood.

Brown might also have to answer questions about whether he supports the themes of Romney’s campaign. Romney is running well behind President Obama in Massachusetts.

“I’m so sorry. We have no more votes today,” Reid said on the Senate floor, according to a rough transcript. “It’s obvious to me what’s going on. I’ve been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who doesn’t want to debate tonight won’t be in [a] debate. Well, he can’t use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.” 

Shortly before Reid made his announcement he struck a deal with Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) structuring debate on Paul’s amendment to end foreign aide to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

As a result of the agreement, Democrats said Republicans had no reason to delay a vote unless they wanted to give Brown an excuse to skip the debate.

“We can either vote right now and be finished or we can vote Saturday morning. The only reason Sen. Brown would need to miss his debate is if his side’s leadership purposely seeks to have the votes at that time,” said a Democratic aide.

A spokeswoman for Brown did not immediately return a request for comment.

But the National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Reid's comments.

“Another day and another dishonest statement from a Senate Majority Leader who never lets facts get in the way of classless, partisan attacks," said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh.

Glen Johnson, politics editor at Boston.com, tweeted shortly before Reid’s announcement that “Scott Brown says he will miss tonight’s debate if he has to because of Senate votes.”

Updated at 5:48 p.m.