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With Energy and Supplemental Complete, Senate Heads Home

In a flurry of action and surprise bipartisan compromises, the Senate on Thursday wrapped up its most pressing legislative business before the August recess and avoided a threatened weekend session.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) crowed Friday that he had outmaneuvered Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) by “calling his bluff” and agreeing to pass an energy bill that Democrats pushed through the chamber last year. The measure passed late Thursday evening, 84-14.

With the weeklong impasse over the energy bill out of the way, Frist pushed through a scaled-back $983 million emergency supplemental spending bill for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had held up the measure because the House-passed bill cut funding for NASA, firefighting and AmeriCorps. Once he received assurances that firefighters would at least get additional funds from elsewhere, Stevens allowed the bill to pass by voice vote and go to the president’s desk.

The Senate also sent the president two fast-track trade agreements with Chile and Singapore.

Frist postponed until September a scheduled Friday vote to limit debate on the controversial nomination of Carolyn Kuhl to be a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in order to allow Senators to return home for the August recess. Democrats earlier this week blocked consideration of three other disputed judicial nominations and were expected to also filibuster Kuhl.

The Senate is in session today, but no legislative business is scheduled.

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