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Christmas cheer eludes Senate leaders

WASHINGTON — With Christmas fast approaching, the still-in-session Senate has turned a bit snippy this week.

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona groused that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was disrespecting Christians by keeping the lame-duck session going into next week.

The Nevada Democrat shot back that he didn’t need to hear “sanctimonious lectures” from Kyl or South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint to understand the meaning of Christmas.

Reid said the Republicans should blame themselves for the extended session because they have wasted “days and days” filibustering 87 bills this session.

Reid was back on the floor Thursday morning to inform his colleagues that the lame-duck session will stretch at least through the weekend. The federal government will run out of money at midnight Saturday unless Congress approves another short-term extension or adopts a budget for the 2011 fiscal year.

Reid plans to hold that debate before a government shutdown occurs.

He also wants to return again to: the Dream Act, repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military, and providing health assistance to first responders sickened after the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered to simplify the budget debate. Rather than enact a “monstrous” 2,000-page omnibus budget bill for the next fiscal year, McConnell, R-Ky., suggested a one-page bill to keep the government’s doors open for two more months.

“We’ve got a choice here,” McConnell said.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau reporter Peter Urban at purban@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.

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