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Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010--Conference Report--Resumed

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2010--CONFERENCE REPORT--Resumed -- (Senate - December 11, 2009)

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I wanted to ask the minority leader--some of us are a little bit perplexed. I know the Senate has its rules, and we try to work through them. But we also at this time of year often try to accommodate families and schedules and so forth. I am curious as to whether the minority leader might not consent to allowing us or why it is that we couldn't, since Senators are here today, schedule the vote and agree to have the vote on the 60-vote margin today rather than tomorrow morning, requiring all staff and everybody in the Senate to come in on a Saturday.

Mr. REID. If I could make a comment before my friend the Republican leader comments, everyone should understand--this should make it easier for everybody--I am going to be home all weekend in Washington. I won't be traveling the country doing any fundraisers that people seem to be afraid of.

Mr. McCONNELL. The answer to it is that our good friend the majority leader told us on November 30 we would be here the next two weekends. He said again this past Monday we would be here this weekend. I assumed and I know he certainly meant what he said. Our Members are here and ready to work. We wish to work on health care amendments. But as a result of the privileged status of the conference report that is before us, we have had that displaced. But I think everybody was on full notice as to what the work schedule was going to be for last weekend and this weekend.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, if I could respond, I don't mean to assert myself in any way that is inappropriate with respect to the leader, but we all know that in the workings of the Senate, what we are doing is both complicated and serious and critical to the country.

We are waiting for CBO to appropriately, consistently--as a member of the Finance Committee, we adhered to a very strict notion that we would try to find the precise modeling and cost of whatever it was we might do. It is entirely appropriate, to have a proper debate or discussion, that we know exactly what the cost is of any particular proposal. That is what we are waiting for. So the majority leader is appropriately trying to move another piece of legislation that is ripe, that is important to the country. This is just a question of courtesy to Senators and to their families and to the staff of the Senate who have been working extraordinarily hard. The question is simply, why, as a matter of convenience, we couldn't schedule a vote for today instead of being scheduled for tomorrow. We could do that by unanimous consent.

Mr. REID. If I could have the Record reflect, the Republican leader is right. I said we would be in session the next several weekends. But if you go back and look at the Record, how many times have I said we would be in session over the weekend and, interestingly enough, around here, magic things happen on Thursdays and Fridays. I have had every intention, as I have every time I have said it, that we should be in on a weekend, and usually we are able to work something out. We haven't been able to this time. I accept that. I am not complaining. But certainly the question of my friend from Massachusetts is a pertinent one. Senators are here now. Maybe we could have the vote early. But it is set statutorily. My unanimous consent request was, and I am not sure it was responded to, that we could have that vote at 9:30 tomorrow morning without having the mandatory 1-hour beforehand.

I heard no objection to that. We will just come in at 8:30. We will come in at 8:30 tomorrow morning and have a 9:30 vote.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the vote
scheduled for tomorrow morning be held instead today at some convenient time within the next hours.

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