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January 22, 2018

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Midnight Senate session to clear decks for health care debate

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

WASHINGTON — Don’t touch that C-SPAN dial. The Senate is planning a midnight session Thursday as Democrats and Republicans fight fire with fire over health care reform.

The session is not even about health care but rather the annual Department of Defense spending bill. Senators have a 1 a.m. vote on the Pentagon bill.

But with just one week to go before the Christmas deadline on health care, neither side is making this easy.

Democrats have little room to spare as the health bill must go through a series of potentially time-consuming procedural votes in coming days if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to reach passage by Christmas.

In a more gentlemanly era, the opposition may not press for the entire time allotted for debate. Thirty hours is allowed and, sometimes, in a spirit of comity or efficiency, it has been known to happen that not all time is taken.

But this has not been that type of era. Note Wednesday’s attempt by Republicans to force the hours-long reading aloud of an amendment.

By calling the midnight session, Reid is playing similarly tough while also clearing the legislative decks so health care can be ready to go once the defense bill is done.

Reid is still rounding up the 60 votes needed on health care and awaiting a cost assessment from the budget office.

So settle in for some late-night C-SPAN action. As the clock ticks down to the Christmas deadline, it may not be the last.

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