Nail-biter: Control of Senate hangs in the balance
Calls for changes at the Senate are mounting into the summer recess as the country’s two most powerful political parties race to control the upper chamber before the election season gets under way.
The Senate is scheduled to return in September, but an agreement to a three-month extension in the state of Washington this week has made that a moot point, setting up a showdown over changes to the way the Senate operates.
Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are locked in negotiations to extend the current deal with the state until September, when it is scheduled to be upended as they prepare to begin a new round of budget negotiations.
The Senate must pass a plan to avert a threatened government shutdown by Friday or there will be a government shutdown. Senate Democrats plan to use the current deal as their vehicle, and they have lined up a new proposal and are expected to vote on it this week.
“This is going to change the Senate at a time when it’s not as important as it is now,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “And I want to make that perfectly clear.”
But a more moderate Republican in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called it “a terrible situation.”
“The House is not giving up anything,” he said in an interview. “The deal that they have reached, while it’s not perfect, it’s certainly better than what would have been reached two years ago, and that’s what they’re going to have to accept.”
In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House Republicans are negotiating as well, though they are not planning to put the state deal to a vote.
“We have to make a statement that we won’t let you down,” Boehner said this morning in an interview with The Associated Press, but added, “We have to move forward and negotiate with whomever’s negotiating.”
The talks in the Senate are expected to dominate the week. If the state deal is not extended, the Senate’s recess will begin on Tuesday, and members will be returning from recess the following week. They are scheduled to start