Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) called Democrats’ push to force through an arms control treaty and an omnibus spending bill right before Christmas “sacrilegious,” and warned he’d draw the process out to wage his objections.
“We shouldn’t be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful,” he told POLITICO. “What’s going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year – they kept everybody here until [Christmas Eve] to force something down everybody’s throat. I think Americans are sick of this.”
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DeMint’s comments echo those of Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) who said Tuesday that Reid’s voting schedule is impossible to accomplish “without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.”
Reid took to the floor Wednesday afternoon and defended jamming through a packed lame-duck agenda in the final days of the session, blaming Republicans for stalling legislative business throughout the year.
“As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas for all of the Christian faith, all their families across America,” he said. “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sens. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.”
Some Christian leaders joined Reid in criticizing DeMint – and later in the day, the South Carolina Christian conservative issued a statement clarifying his concerns.
“I have no problem working every day until Christmas and beyond to stop this rampage of spending and bad policy, what I object to is Democrats trying to rush through an agenda voters rejected and hoping that Americans are too busy with the holidays to notice,” DeMint said.
The heated back-and-forth has set up a high-stakes showdown that could determine whether Reid scales back his lame-duck agenda. At stake are votes on a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military, a vote on the DREAM Act immigration measure, and the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.
From abc NEWS:
Now that the Senate has passed the tax bill in a rare show of bipartisanship, the world’s greatest deliberative body seems poised to become a place of bitter partisanship, fierce divisiveness, and negative tactics. In other words, business as usual.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to take up the START nuclear treaty with Russia and a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus bill that includes $8 billion of earmarks. After that, he still wants to pass the stand-alone Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and the DREAM Act.
Oh, and about that Christmas break – it might not be much of one at all.
“Christmas is a week from Saturday. I understand that,” Reid said Tuesday. “But I hope the Republicans understand it also, because we are going to complete our work no matter how long it takes in this Congress. We have to do the work of the American people. We’ve been stalled and stalled and stalled this whole Congress, and it’s going on right now.”
That stalling is only going to get worse over the next week. Republicans led by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, plan to force readings on the Senate floor of the START pact and the omnibus, an effort to force lawmakers to slow down and learn what is in the bills.
“What a colossal waste of time,” Reid said Wednesday.
Reid even raised the possibility of working during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
“There’s still Congress after Christmas. So if the Republicans think that because they can stall and stall and stall that we take a break, we’re through, we’re not through. Congress ends on January 4th.”
If the possibility of working on Christmas Eve didn’t already have Republicans fuming, then the chance of losing their post-Christmas break surely did. Kyl said the Senate should simply pass a funding bill to keep the government running once the latest continuing resolution runs out on Saturday – and then go home.
“We ought to pass the tax legislation and keep the lights on around here. Everything else can wait,” railed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday.
So to recap, Republicans say Democrats are disrespecting Christmas, disrespecting the Senate, and disrespecting the voters. Democrats say Republicans have stalled all year long – and that it would be an affront to voters for them to leave now with so much work still incomplete.