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 McConnellPeter Thiel does not make the GOP pro-gay Reid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes 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 DurbinSyria activists cheer Kaine pick Democratic National Convention event calendar Opioid package clears key Senate hurdle 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 ReidReid: Congress should return 'immediately' to fight Zika Classified briefings to begin for Clinton, Trump The Trail 2016: Her big night MORE (D-Nev.) said in an email.
Three likely Republican presidential contenders, Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzVoting Trump because of the Supreme Court isn't enough Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings Dem lawmakers rally Muslims against Trump MORE (Texas), Rand PaulRand PaulGreen party candidate: People have 'real questions' about vaccines What to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses MORE (Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioFlorida: 'High likelihood' of first Zika transmission in the US Overnight Healthcare: Rubio presses Obama to spend Zika money | FDA moves ahead with trans fat ban The Trail 2016: Her big night 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.