Senate Switcheroo Crimps Travel Plans

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:51pm

Thursday night’s unplanned — but predictable — shift in the Senate’s vote schedule meddled with plans of senators who actually planned to show up for work Friday.  

While it’s not clear how many Republicans planned to be at the Capitol had votes gone forward late Friday, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee certainly did.  

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa drove himself back to the Capitol complex at around 8:30 p.m., on Thursday.  

Standing outside the Dirksen building, Grassley said he had returned to pick up materials for his trip back to Iowa for the two-week recess, having expected to be in Washington until after a series of nomination votes that were slated to start at 5 p.m. Friday.  

“I was going to come back to the office and vote and fly out tomorrow night. Now, I’ve got to come back to the office and get the stuff I left here,” Grassley said.  

Democratic aides indicated a number of Democratic senators already had full schedules in their home states. Those senators are the ones who would have been counted on to ensure a quorum for the votes Friday afternoon with the possibility of sparse GOP attendance.  

The result is that the Democrats have effectively accepted the offer made by Grassley during Thursday’s procedural sparring on the floor, to get a federal Circuit judge and a Labor Department administrator through to confirmation on the evening of April 28, when the Senate returns to legislative business after Easter and Passover.  

Grassley’s presence at the Friday vote would’ve been no surprise. In addition to leading his party on the Judiciary Committee, Grassley has the longest consecutive roll call vote streak in the Senate, dating back to missed votes to tour Iowa flooding damage with President Bill Clinton in 1993.  

Grassley led the GOP objection to yielding back time early on the 30 hours of debate after limiting debate on President Barack Obama’s choice of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  

Republicans say the delays are all part of the continued fallout from the “nuclear” option.