By J. Taylor Rushing - 02/08/10 05:36 PM EST
The weather wreaked havoc with congressional schedules on Monday, and more snow is set for the arrival of lawmakers on Tuesday.
Senate aides said the chamber would be back in session Tuesday regardless of the forecast for more snow. Senators are scheduled to vote on a nomination to the National Labor Relations Board opposed by Republicans and business groups.
Everything just shifts back a day.
“The only reason we were out today is because the airports still haven't opened, but will be opening shortly,” the aide said.
The Senate canceled its planned votes as Washington struggled to dig out of a massive weekend snowstorm.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced votes on Tuesday would be postponed to give lawmakers more time to get back to Washington.
He said the House was focused on completing its work, but that it would assess the state of the weather on Tuesday and then make a decision on how to move forward.
The 66th Annual Congressional Dinner sponsored by the Washington Press Club scheduled for Wednesday also was postponed.
The White House canceled Monday's scheduled press briefing, and federal workers got the day off after the Office of Personnel Management determined bad road conditions and a public-transportation network at less then full strength would lead to a dangerous commute.
OPM late Monday announced federal workers would also have Tuesday off.
The National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington office was forecasting the next snowstorm to start at the same time as the Senate: About 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Forecasters say there is an 80 percent chance of at least an inch of accumulation. The heavier stuff could come Tuesday night, with forecasts predicting up to six more inches of accumulation. Even more snow could come Wednesday morning.
Nonetheless, aides said senators should expect to convene at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The Senate's usual Tuesday policy lunches have been pushed back to Wednesday, but Democratic leaders have a 5 p.m. Tuesday vote scheduled on Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board. The Obama nominee is controversial because of his ties to organized labor, and business groups have launched an all-out fight.
The Senate also hopes to complete work on a jobs package this week.
The D.C. area's three airports were showing some signs of life on Monday. Reagan National Airport opened at 10 a.m., with the facility's main runway, which handles the vast majority of flights, cleared.
However, airlines are operating on a limited basis, according to Mark Treadaway, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “Anyone who has a flight is strongly urged to call ahead,” Treadaway said. “It's a cautionary message: Don't come unless you're sure your flight is still on. If you don't know, it's better not to come.”
At Dulles International Airport in Virginia, two runways were open and two more were being cleared. Treadaway said the situation was the same as at Reagan: Flights are limited, and passengers are urged to call ahead.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport was also nearing a return to normal on Monday. The airport opened one runway at 5 p.m. Sunday, and a second was expected to be clear by noon Monday, said Linda Warehime, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Aviation Administration. “We're up, we're operational, and the runway is very clear,” Warehime said. “We're in great shape.”
Transportation inside D.C. remained spotty and sporadic due to icy road conditions, and above-ground Metrorail stations were closed.
Metro crews were struggling to restore above-ground rail tracks because the continuing low temperatures were re-icing the electrified rails. Forty of Metrorail’s 86 stations are above ground, totaling 55 miles of the system’s 106 total miles. All 40 above-ground stations were closed.
Getting a train required patience. Most were operating every 24 to 30 minutes.