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At GOP Retreat, a Commitment to Late-Night Votes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BALTIMORE — Attention House lawmakers: You might want to pack a snack when you head to work this year.  

“We’re going to have a lot of late-night votes,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters at the Baltimore Marriott on Thursday, where Republicans in the House and Senate gathered for their policy retreat dubbed, “Congress of Tomorrow 2016.” A handful of lawmakers informed of the possibility for late votes this year yielded a similar reaction: a smile, a sigh, and a statement that they don’t mind working late.  

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., heading out of the hotel into a cold Baltimore night for a walk, said, “Hey, when I’m in Washington, I got nothing else to do.”  

“It won’t change my lifestyle much. Because I get up early, I work out, then I work and go to bed. That’s it. That’s all I do. Then you rinse and repeat,” Dent said, though he noted he hoped the votes wouldn’t go too late into the night.  

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, speculated the expectation of late-night votes could explain why Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has been cracking down on vote times . He said of the prospect of late votes, “It certainly makes everybody work a little bit harder.”  

The anticipated late votes are products of the pledge to allow more amendments and debate on legislation and a shortened calendar, due to the party conventions in July and the November elections.  

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said he wasn’t told there would be late votes, but also didn’t mind. He said he goes to bed around 11:30 p.m. or midnight and gets up at 6 a.m. “If we can keep it within those hours, that would be helpful,” Huizenga said. “But there’s an appetite, really, from a lot of us, to say, ‘Let’s get on with it.'”  

Huizenga sleeps in his office, though, so he could get to a vote relatively quickly if necessary. “My commute’s pretty short,” he said with a laugh. “So that’s helpful.”

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