If 150,000 American servicemen and women will be working through Christmas, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it shouldn’t be any trouble for members of Congress to do the same thing. Republican Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and Jim DeMint of South Carolina are complaining that the current plan could keep Congress in session until New Year’s Eve. Harkin, a Democrat, says his colleagues’ claims of a “sacrilegious” schedule don’t make any sense.
“I couldn’t understand what Kyl and DeMint were saying,” Harkin says. “They were saying that (Democrat and Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid was anti-Christian because he was keeping us here. I don’t think anyone’s talking about working on Christmas Day. The vast majority of American people will probably take off at noon on Friday, they’ll have Saturday off, that’s Christmas Day, they’ll have Sunday off. Most Americans go back to work on Monday. Why are we so different?” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky joined the other Republicans in rallying against plans to stay in session through year’s end. Harkin says that’s ironic.
Harkin says, “It’s DeMint and McConnell and Kyl who are filibustering everything and forcing us to stay here.” Harkin claims if the Republicans would end their blockades and delaying tactics, they could all complete their work and then everyone could go home.
“DeMint is threatening to force a reading of the bill, which is allowed under the rules, and that’s about 1,800 pages,” Harkin says.
“That’ll take a couple of days to do. Then they were threatening to have them read the START Treaty. That’ll take another couple of days.” Harkin says, “They’re the ones crying about being here over Christmas when they’re the ones causing it.” He describes their attitude as “scary” and asserts Congress needs to get its job done.