Sen­a­tors chafe at ‘cliff’ in­ac­tion

They grouse about be­ing sum­moned back to Washington early to try for deal.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byjennifer Stein­hauer new York times

WASHINGTON — Sen­a­tors bid hasty good­byes to fam­i­lies, donned ties and pantsuits in lieu of sweat pants and Christ­mas sweaters and one by one re­turned to the Capi­tol on Thurs­day to be­gin the busi­ness of do­ing noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar.

But for once, those law­mak­ers were fully united, if only around their sad­ness and frus­tra­tion at be­ing stuck in Washington in a hol­i­day week, peer­ing over the edge of the fis­cal abyss.

“This is no way to run things,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who checked off the var­i­ous back­yard sports he longed to be play­ing with his chil­dren: foot­ball, soc­cer and golf.

Mem­bers of the Se­nate trudged back to the Capi­tol os­ten­si­bly to work out a deal with the White House to avoid large tax in­creases and spend­ing cuts set to take ef­fect in just a few days. With the pos­si­bil­ity of New Year’s Eve floor fes­tiv­i­ties loom­ing, Congress could find it­self vot­ing on the fi­nal day of the year for the first time in more than four decades.

Sen. Harry Reid, DNev., the ma­jor­ity leader, was ea­ger to demon­strate that the Se­nate was ready to move on any idea pre­sented by the White House or the House even as things seemed to be ca­reen­ing to­ward fail­ure Thurs­day.

“Mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives are out watch­ing movies and watch­ing their kids play soc­cer and bas­ket­ball and do­ing all kinds of things,” said Reid, in a fe­ro­cious floor at­tack on the House that he re­turned to pe­ri­od­i­cally through­out the day Thurs­day. “They should be here.”

Not to be out­done, Speaker John Boehner, who failed last week to cob­ble to­gether enough votes for his own bill, or­dered House mem­bers to re­turn Sun­day. Say­ing it was the Se­nate’s turn to come up with an idea, he told fel­low Repub­li­cans on a con­fer­ence call, “The House will take this ac­tion on what­ever the Se­nate can pass, but the Se­nate must act.”

Ab­sent a so­lu­tion, or even a path­way to a bill, sen­a­tors whiled away the hours pon­der­ing hur­ri­cane aid and swear­ing in a new se­na­tor from Hawaii.

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