Obama Told the Senate to Cancel Its July 4th Break — They Did, But Did Nothing

By Eliza

Jul 8, 2011 9:23am

ABC News' Tom Shine and Sunlen Miller report:

Just before the annual celebration of our nation’s birth, President Obama, during a news conference, used the example of his two daughter’s exemplary schoolwork ethics to shame 100 grown men and women into canceling their July 4th break to stay in town and work on the country’s pressing needs—a budget and the debt limit.  Let’s take a look at what the United States Senate did.

“It is often said that with liberty comes responsibility,” Senator Reid, D-NV., said on the Senate floor June 30th, announcing the cancellation of the vacation. “We should take that responsibility seriously. I’m confident we do. That’s why the Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, the day after the 4th. We’ll do that because we have work to do.”

The senate was not in session on Monday, July 4th.  Can’t argue with that.  No one really expected senators to be hard at work while there was a concert going on in their front yard and the best and biggest fireworks display in the nation spewed colorful bursts down upon them.

On Tuesday, the senate came into session at 2pm and was supposed to debate and vote on a Libya resolution but Republicans objected, noting that the only reason the Senate was in session was to debate and negotiate the debt ceiling.

Republican Senator Corker from Tennessee called this kind of scheduling in the Senate “dysfunctional.”

“We're here over the debt ceiling, “ Corker said Tuesday, “We're here over the fact that we have huge deficits and we don't have an agreement to deal with that, but instead of focusing on the issue at hand, which is what most people back in Tennessee or Virginia or some other place would do if they had a problem, we're going to focus on something possibly that is irrelevant and has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand, just to make the American people think that we're doing something.”

When it was clear Republicans were going to vote down the Libya resolution in protest –when it likely would have passed otherwise — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to pull the bill.

Instead Senators had a roll call vote on the motion to instruct the Sergeant of Arms to compel the attendance of Senators on Tuesday.  

Reid then opened up a motion to proceed to a “Sense of the Senate” measure on “shared sacrifice in the budget negotiations.  The non-binding resolution that stated millionaires “should make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit-reduction effort.”

But many Senators called this action by Reid – which provided a debate on a non-binding resolution – meaningless and a waste of time.  New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte called the bill a “political stunt.”

"We're here to work on real legislation," Ayotte said at a press conference Wednesday. "We should be bringing a real budget resolution to the floor.

The Senators spent Wednesday and Thursday debating this resolution.

Thursday, the senate had a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to go to S 1323, the shared sacrifice in budget negotiations, which passed by a vote of 74-22. Many Republicans, while they were against the resolution, voted for the non-binding measure in order to proceed to a debate on taxes, the central diving point on the debt ceiling negotiations.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona took to the Senate floor Thursday morning to openly mock the schedule that has been less than busy, in the middle of debt crisis, which is the reason the Senators remained in DC during their regularly scheduled recess – to work.

“I'm just wondering the view that you might have that we've been terribly overworked this week,” McCain said sarcastically on the Senate floor, “I understand that we canceled our 4th of July recess in order to get back here and get to work and do the people's business. Is it correct that that was the second vote this we have take? One was the instruction of the sergeant at arms, and this one another highly controversial issue that was taken up.”

McCain asked, “has this week been a worthwhile expenditure of the taxpayers' dollar?”

There was one closed-door meeting with a few top leaders at the White House.

Today, Friday, the senate is not in session, and will stand adjourned until Monday at 2 pm. They will hold a roll call vote on the motion to proceed on the “sense of the Senate” resolution at 5:30 pm.

What would Malia and Sasha say about that?      

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