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Senators buckle down for a long holiday

Senators buckle down for a long holiday

Senate Republicans and Democrats are digging in for a long December, vowing they have no objection to the possibility of a working Christmas to debate healthcare reform.
 
From GOP rank-and-file to Democratic leaders, senators say they regret but recognize the need to put public duty ahead of their families and follow a schedule tentatively laid out by Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations MORE (D-Nev.). Reid has said he may call the chamber back into session in between the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
 

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Several senators said they expected to simply work through Christmas instead of adjourning on Dec. 18, as is Reid's current plan. All senators interviewed acknowledged such a schedule will force them to forgo family plans.
 
"I was planning to go to London with my daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren," said Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), former chief of staff to former Sen. Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden says he would advise Trump against Mueller interview Biden on Trump's 'treason' comments: 'He's a joke' Joe Kennedy: Biden likely would have defeated Trump MORE (D-Del.). "I've already canceled my flight. I don't think we'll be done by the 18th. I've been around this place for 36 years. But healthcare is such an important issue, you have to put it ahead of your personal life. There will be Christmas next year."
 
"My family plans are always subject to change," said Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinMenendez to regain spot as top Foreign Relations Dem US could reinstate security assistance if Pakistan takes 'decisive' steps Cardin files to run for third term MORE (D-Md.). "My family knew that when I was elected to the Senate... If we stay here through Christmas, so be it."
 
Only a minority of senators said they expect to meet Reid's goal of a final Senate vote before Christmas, allowing them time to return home.
 
"I fully expect Christmas Day to be eating turkey with my family someplace," said Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.). "If we come back the day after Christmas, I assume the turkey will be gone by then but my preference will be to be able to digest it for a couple of days."
 
"Of course there's personal plans that will be jeopardized," conceded Democratic Conference Secretary Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayLawmakers eye retirement help for gig economy workers Overnight Regulation: Labor Department reportedly hid unfavorable report on tip-pooling rule | NY plans to sue EPA over water rule | Senators urge FTC to probe company selling fake Twitter followers Trump's vows to take on drug prices, opioids draw skepticism MORE (Wash.). "But I'm still hopeful we can come together like we usually do."
 
Republicans vowed to match the Democrats' resolve. GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (Ky.) has publicly called for "weeks and weeks" of Senate debate on the bill, and Republicans are readying a variety of amendments that would all but obliterate a Dec. 18th final vote.
 
"I'm sure everybody has family plans that will be affected, but we're committed to staying as long as it takes to defeat this," said GOP Policy Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Apple tells senator it may give rebates to consumers who bought iPhone batteries Republican agenda clouded by division MORE (S.D.). "And I'm sure the other side thinks they'll stay as long as necessary to pass it."
 
Republicans such as Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerMcConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Trump, GOP make peace after tax win — but will it last? MORE of Mississippi dismissed the idea of simply skipping the final healthcare vote, even considering that their opposition to the bill would allow them such a liberty. Wicker said he recognized the historic nature of the vote and has already tentatively canceled a political event in Mississippi.
 
"It would be silly for the Senate to forego Christmas season with our families when you know there will be so much down time in January," Wicker said. "But I'm not going to miss healthcare votes. If the majority leader thinks we'll be voting between Christmas and New Year's, I'll be here voting.
 
"There are soldiers sweating in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I visualize the pictures of the bare-footed soldiers with their feet bleeding at Valley Forge in Christmas of 1776. I think we can stand to be in this splendid building for Christmas if we have to."
 
Some senators, such as liberal Democrat Roland Burris of Illinois, said they remain optimistic that they can crowd a busy social schedule into the month, even with a healthcare vote that may or may not occur on the 18th.
 
"Today I'm missing a big luncheon I was supposed to be at. On Saturday there's a Christmas party, on Dec. 13th there's a black-tie event and on Dec. 18th there's a black-tie event, all in Chicago," Burris said. "And there's events on the 19th, the 20th and the 26th. All of those things were on my social calendar. But I don't think I'll miss them. I think we'll get it done. But I'm going to follow our leader."