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Housing Bill Votes Begin

The Senate is set to vote Monday evening on various procedural aspects of the massive housing bill that the House passed before the July Fourth recess.

In a move aimed at forcing the hand of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has objected to the unanimous consent request that would have allowed the housing bill to move ahead. Ensign and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) want the opportunity to vote on renewable energy tax breaks as an amendment to the housing bill.

Ensign’s objections mean the Senate is now forced to surmount time-consuming procedural hurdles to fast-track what amounts to a vote on the housing bill, which may not happen until later this week or early next week.

Now, the Senate will have to invoke cloture on separate portions of the housing legislation in order to proceed to an actual vote on the overall legislation.

Reid and Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, are in a tug-of-war that has pitted their agendas against each other. The two Nevadans enjoy a close working relationship, but they have locked horns over the renewable energy credits.

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