In a rare scheduling move, U.S. Senators will spend Christmas Eve at the Capitol voting on legislation that promises to overhaul the nation’s health care system.
The Senate version of the health care bill will come to a vote at 8 a.m. Thursday, according to a spokesperson in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s press office.
It will be the first time Georgia’s two Republican senators have had to be in Washington, D.C., during a holiday. The last time the Senate convened on Christmas Eve was 1963, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Despite the strange timing, representatives for both Georgia senators say they are willing to stay as long as they need to fight the Democratically backed legislation. But both said the deadline was too soon.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sen. Johnny Isakson said the process to pass health care legislation had not been thoughtful or a transparent one.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the rush to pass this legislation and the back room deals that Senator Reid made with a small group of senators in order to secure their votes,” he said.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss called Reid’s effort to get the Senate version of the legislation passed by Christmas a tactic to “back senators in a corner.”
Likewise, Jim Pilgrim, chairman of Hall County’s Republican Party called the deadline a tactic by the Obama administration to “get this ramrodded through.”
“I just think it’s back door tactics, the whole thing, and he has to have something for his State of the Union address, he wants that in there and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it there,” Pilgrim said. “Everybody wants to go home for Christmas Eve to be with their families so that’s the pressure on them to get it done so they can get home.”
But Jim Taflinger, vice chairman of the Hall County Democrats, said he was proud that senators were staying in Washington and
“getting the job done.” Taflinger said the vote could have occurred sooner, but tactics by Republicans have extended the process.
“There comes a point where you have to finish it,” Taflinger said.
“...When they talk about rushing and when they talk about ramrod — when was it — Hilary Care in 1993, the last really healthy debate we had about health care and since that time, and I did a calculation recently ... if they had taken an hour a month, and all these guys have run on health care issues, it’s 192 hours between then and this year,” Taflinger said. “And if they couldn’t have educated themselves and if they couldn’t have come up with a plan in 192 hours and you take that times the number of members in Congress, it makes you wonder. So when they talk about it being rushed, they’ve campaigned on health care every election that they’ve run, so they should be well-educated.”