Senate Floor Sideshow… Again

Apr 23, 2008 7:23pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Any time the major Presidential candidates return to their day jobs, it creates a sideshow theater both for their respective campaigns and for the matter at hand before the Senate.

Take a look at previous appearances by the candidates here, here, here and here.

Republicans complained when Democrats tried to schedule a vote today around the schedules of Senators Clinton and Obama, who were both campaigning all day in Indiana and could not make it back to Washington until 6pm.

So Republicans insisted, as is their right, that the vote only occur an hour after the Senate came to order. So Democrats kept the Senate out of session until 5pm; they needed the two votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of a bill to give employees more latitude to file lawsuits alleging pay discrimination.

But today’s sideshow was quicker than usual.

Both Senators Clinton and Obama gave quick speeches just before the vote. She left the floor before Obama began speaking and did not return until just before the voting began.

The Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, complained that the whole Senate was being dictated by the schedules of two of its members.

Obama could be seen speaking with his political concigliere and Illinois colleague, the majority whip, Sen. Dick Durbin.

But he left the floor shortly after voting and seemed to look at Sen. Clinton in the corner of the room as he strode out.

Sen. Clinton, fresh from her win in Pennsylvania, stayed on the floor longer. And several Obama supporters could be seen giving her their congratulations. Among them were Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, who stumped hard for Obama and against Clinton in the lead up to the Pennsylvania primary. She also spoke for a time to the chief political surrogate of Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Obama supporter, who not long ago told a radio station that Sen. Clinton should get it over with and drop out, also went over to shake Sen. Clinton’s hand.

What was not different about today’s vote was the outcome.

Whenever the Democratic candidates have returned to vote this year, their participation has not yielded the necessary 60 votes to overcome the Republican filibuster. Today, five Republicans joined the Democrats for a total of 56 votes in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The motion failed.

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