Senate Democrats are preparing for another all night session to challenge Republican senators who are holding up passage of a jobs bill.
This follows what Democrats saw as a victory recently over one Republican senator who held up a measure for days that contained a short term extension of unemployment and COBRA benefits, all because the measure was not paid for with some kind of offset in spending or through taxes.
Democrats, particularly those elected in 2006 and 2008, according to two senior Democratic leadership aides, met last week with Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team and asked that more episodes like this occur.
“More examples of Republican obstruction,” that was the message, said one of the aides. “Continue to hold their feet to the fire,” said another aide describing the crux of the meeting with the Senate newcomers.
So, Monday night at 5:30pm, the Senate will conduct a cloture vote to shut off debate on a $15 billion measure that contains a payroll tax cut for new hires and highway and infrastructure spending.
According to Senate rules, a post-cloture clock then starts ticking for a prescribed 30 hours, after which, final passage occurs.
Republicans will not agree to shrink or eliminate that time period, as most often happens in the Senate.
So, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL, informed Senate Republican leaders last week that this was the likely the path forward: an all night session. Republicans would have to remain in the chamber so as to fend off any Democrat who requests that the time be "deemed expired."
Both Democratic aides said members were being lined up to man the chamber for the night, a job that will likely fall to those same newcomers.
A senior Senate GOP leadership aide told Fox, “If they want to be in session all night so our folks can talk about health care, then God bless ‘em.”
The GOP aide said Republicans would not agree to move immediately to final passage, because the bill “adds to the deficit.”
The bill does not contain offsets. Democrats have deemed the measure an “emergency,” a move that allows them to bypass the recently-passed “pay as you go” (PAYGO) rules requiring members to enact spending cuts or tax hikes to pay for legislation.
Some Republicans, like Sen. Budget Committee Ranking Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, decried the one year extension of the Highway bill in the $15 billion measure, saying it actually adds directly to the deficit by pulling $20 billion out of the Treasury to pay for the extension.
But one conservative Republican, James Inhofe, R-OK, sided with Democrats on this point, saying that this kind of spending is exactly what senators are here to do.
Either way, this is all political theater. The jobs bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support when all is said and done.