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October 9, 2015

Senate Needs ‘Magic’ to Complete Pre-Recess Agenda (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate might just have too much to do before departing for August recess.

But, it is a chamber where “magic” all-too-often occurs on Thursday evenings, and senators might need it come July 31. There’s no shortage of big ticket items on the legislative agenda of Majority Leader Harry Reid, including funding for the crisis involving unaccompanied migrant children, stopgap highway funding and the ongoing issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In response to the supplemental spending request from President Barack Obama, the Nevada Democrat plans to put on the floor a measure, soon to be unveiled by Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., that’s expected to provide short of the $3.7 billion requested by the White House for the border crisis.

Asked of the chance that the Senate could leave for August recess without acting, Reid said, “I would hope that were not the case. These agencies are going to run out of money in mid-August. As I said, we have, I think, a really very good proposal.”

Reid added that he would “need a little help from my Republican friends” to move forward expeditiously on the supplemental.

Reid said Tuesday that work continued to reach an agreement on debating a package of amendments to a stopgap transportation measure.

“Again, we’re trying to move forward on the highway bill,” he told reporters. “The House passed a highway bill. We have one out of the Finance Committee. We have four or five amendments. We’re trying to get agreement to allow them to come forward.”

“There could be others, but the Republicans are holding up any agreement on amendments,” Reid said. “We’re going to have votes on the Highway Trust Fund before we leave here. I’d like to do it tomorrow or the next day.”

He resisted calls from some on the Republican side to move forward with sanctions legislation against Iran in the aftermath of the extension of the nuclear talks announced Friday. A Republican aide said Monday the idea of trying to attach an Iran sanctions package to the must-pass highway funding bill has at least been floated.

“I think we should, on Iranian sanctions, let the dust settle. I think we should all feel good that an agreement was reached to move further. Now, I don’t know if there’s going to be a final agreement. I certainly hope so, but I don’t know,” Reid said. “But before we start talking about additional sanctions, let’s just let the dust settle for a little while.”

He sounded more upbeat about the prospects for the conference committee to address the veterans issues than he did on Monday, expressing optimism they would reach a result, saying he had discussed the matter with Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.

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