By Laura Barron-Lopez - 01/23/15 12:31 AM EST
The Senate worked through the night Thursday to get through amendments on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is headed for final passage next week.
Following through on a threat, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJuan Williams: Trump's race politics will destroy GOP Rank-and-file Republicans fear lame-duck vote on pricey funding bill Clinton, Trump sharpen attacks MORE (R-Ky.) kept the Senate in until midnight on Thursday.
Democrats cried foul Friday at 12 a.m. when McConnell started to close up shop after tabling a series of Democratic amendments.
Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinTrump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration Dem wants hearing on EpiPen price hikes Legislators privacy fight coincides with FCC complaint MORE (D-Ill.) took issue with the move, arguing that the process wasn't "in the best interest of what we are trying to achieve here."
Democrats were also upset because of the limited time allowed to debate the amendments offered, claiming the new Republican-led Senate smelled of a "whiff of Koch."
"And the record will reflect the spirited debate on those amendments when you wouldn't even give the authors 60s to describe what was in the amendment," Durbin said, referring to short floor speeches.
Democrats questioned if the speedy nighttime session to get through amendments had something to do with the conference in California sponsored by the Freedom Partners, a conservative group tied to mega-donors Charles and David Koch.
"Senator McConnell's rush to vote on amendments without providing time to read or debate them could have something to do with this Koch retreat tomorrow, which a number of Republican senators are reportedly attending..." Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems' Florida Senate primary nears its bitter end Trump haunts McCain's reelection fight 10 most expensive House races MORE (D-Nev.) said in an email.
Three likely Republican presidential contenders, Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump attacking immigration issue openly and honestly Election 2016: A choice between Goldfinger and Darth Vader Would internet transition have an impact on current US election? MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRand PaulTrump, Clinton boost Snapchat spending Clinton enjoying edge over Trump in Silicon Valley Trump gets little backing from Silicon Valley MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioChristie: Critics of Medicaid expansion have been 'proven wrong' Rank-and-file Republicans fear lame-duck vote on pricey funding bill Dems' Florida Senate primary nears its bitter end MORE (Fla.), will appear together on a panel at the conference.
Jentleson called the move to "hustle out the door to rub shoulders with the billionaire Koch brothers" a "defining moment" in the early stages of McConnell's reign as majority leader.
Democrats took the opportunity to call McConnell out for not holding true to his promise to hold Friday sessions to get work done.
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart responded to criticism from Democrats on Twitter, arguing the Senate has spent two weeks debating Keystone.
Stewart said the majority leader offered to hold a series of votes on Friday but Durbin objected. Taking a victory lap, Republicans touted that the Senate voted on more amendments to the Keystone bill than the total number allowed in all of 2014.
Republicans made the Canada-to-Texas pipeline their top priority when taking control of the upper chamber and vowed to make it the first item they would send to the president's desk.
Keystone proponents say 63 senators have indicated support for the bill, giving them more than the 60 needed for a filibuster-proof majority.