By Alexander Bolton - 09/30/09 02:30 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid knocks GOP over 'light' Senate schedule McConnell sets up vote to begin debate on defense policy bill The Trail 2016: Dems struggle for unity MORE (D-Nev.) has cancelled the Senate’s Columbus Day recess so that lawmakers can focus on passing healthcare reform legislation during the week of Oct. 12.
Reid said the Senate would likely take up healthcare legislation on the chamber floor that week.
Reid has often threatened to cancel recesses or long weekends to spur colleagues to pick up their legislative pace. But he usually relents, letting fellow lawmakers fly home to visit their families and constituents around the country.
The pressure on Democrats to pass healthcare reform, however, has raised the stakes. Some Senate aides speculated that Reid did not want to give conservative activists a chance to stall progress by staging a second round of angry demonstrations during townhall-style meetings over the recess.
“The Columbus Day [recess] is fast approaching,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It’s the week after next and with all the things going on here, it just would not be right for us to take that week off.”
Reid said the Senate would only work three days that week, taking off Columbus Day (a Monday) and the following Friday. The Senate would not vote until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Reid acknowledged the burden that the cancelled recess would pose on colleagues.
“I know that’s inconvenient for others because we indicated there would be a recess,” he said, noting that the Senate would be in session for 11 straight weeks from the start of the work period until the Thanksgiving break. “So I apologize to everyone.”
The House is scheduled to hold votes Tuesday through Friday of that week.