FEATURED:

Reid juggles hectic final week agenda

The Senate’s last few days of action before its summer break is shaping up to be a frenzied week of challenges for Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.).

From cash-for-clunkers to the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to a bill that would benefit his home state, Reid is pushing an agenda that will attempt to beat the clock, resist Republican slow-down attempts and appease several unhappy members of his party.

ADVERTISEMENT
The $2 billion cash infusion granted Friday by the House to the overwhelmed cash-for-clunkers program must be accepted by the Senate this week without amendments — or it won’t be signed into law until September.

The House has adjourned for its summer recess, and some Senate lawmakers want to change the bill, which will likely force Reid into a days-long cloture process.

The Obama administration is applying pressure on the Senate to pass the House bill. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that unless the program gets additional funding soon, “it’s unlikely that we’ll make it to the weekend with a program that can continue.”

Meanwhile, Republicans will be pushing for several days of floor debate on the Sotomayor nomination, raising concerns about her judicial record.

Sotomayor will likely attract between 65 and 75 votes later this week, becoming the first Hispanic to serve on the high court.

Reid, who is facing reelection next year, is hoping to return to Nevada this summer with a travel-promotion bill that will boost his state’s economy. Reid tried to move the legislation earlier this year, but it fell short in a floor vote.

Amid all this activity, the Senate is also aiming to pass an agricultural-spending bill.

Reid expressed optimism on Monday — and delivered a warning shot to senators who are looking to leave town on Thursday.

“We can get to all of this,” Reid told The Hill on Monday. “But we may not finish on Thursday night like some people want to.”

Senior Democratic aides know they’re in for a challenge, using words like “difficult” and “aggressive” to describe this week’s agenda. But they say it can get done, even with minimal cooperation from the GOP and the potential of a Friday or Saturday vote.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said his party will push a go-slow approach on cash-for-clunkers so that the program’s solvency and effectiveness can be examined. Without knowing how many claims are still in the pipeline, Kyl suggested a similar mistake could be made again.

“We need to have a time-out to see how much money was spent,” Kyl said. “Before you authorize more money, wouldn’t you like to know how much you’ve spent and how it took to spend it, and what kind of things you might want to do to modify it?”

Two senior GOP aides said Republicans will likely object to rushing any more money for the program, as might several Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Reid’s in a tough spot on this one,” said one aide. “This will not be a quick up-or-down vote.”

The GOP staffers pointed to Democrats like Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers feel pressure on guns Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban Florida lawmakers reject motion to consider bill that would ban assault rifles MORE of California, Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE of Missouri and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments MORE of Virginia, who in recent days have all expressed skepticism about the program. However, Feinstein and GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (Maine) indicated on Monday evening they will support the measure. Warner wants the program to have higher mileage requirements while McCaskill has sounded skeptical about how it will be funded.

But other Democrats strike a common refrain: The sudden demand on the cash-for-clunkers program proves it is working.

“The president’s for it. I’m for it. It’s just a very unusual kind of government program that people have a hard time adjusting to,” said Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.). “But it’s doing good.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) tied the cash-for-clunkers program to healthcare in a floor speech Monday, saying the program’s sudden need for cash proves “the administration’s tendency to miss the mark on economic estimates.”

“There’s a pattern here, a pattern that amounts to an argument — and a very strong argument at that: When the administration comes bearing estimates, it’s not a bad idea to look for a second opinion. All the more so if they say they’re in a hurry,” McConnell said.

In an unexpected move, Reid on Monday raised the issue of right-wing attacks against President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE’s citizenship as an example of Republican attempts to derail the Democratic agenda. In his floor speech, Reid referred to it as “an artificial controversy.

He added the shadowy attack on Obama “ignores the undeniable and proven fact that President Obama was born in the United States.”

“We can’t blame people for wondering why, with an issue as important as healthcare now before us, bipartisan consensus sometimes seem so elusive,” Reid said. “I say to them, this extreme brand of strategy and the extreme tactics that come with it are what we have to contend with.”