Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Republicans who are publicly complaining about the possibility of returning to work over the holidays, calling their concerns “sanctimonious.”
“As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas,” Reid said, who is Mormon. “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sens. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Republican Whip Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona said that Reid’s suggestion that Democrats would call another session of Congress before the end of the year was “disrespecting” to Christians who work in Congress. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint went as far as calling Reid’s actions “sacrilegious.”
Reid struck back Wednesday, and said that Republicans should be blamed for the holiday session, not Democrats.
He blasted Republicans for conducting “87 filibusters” over the past year and accused them of using “every trick in the book to delay legislation.”
Senate Republicans earlier this month vowed to block all legislation until the Bush-era tax rates were extended and the government was funded into the next year. Aside from the vote on the tax deal Wednesday, the Senate has been at a stand still ever since. Reid put their commitment to the ultimate test by forcing a vote on a bill that would offer medical services to first responders still suffering from ailments that resulted from rescue efforts on September 11, 2001. Republicans held the line and voted it down.
Despite the lack of time, Democrats continue to push for an ambitious plan for the final weeks of the 111th Congress. Beyond wrapping up President Obama’s tax deal and finding a way to keep the government funded into the next year, Reid has said he wants to hold a vote on an immigration reform bill, a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and the medical care bill for 9/11 first responders.
“It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out, frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff,” Kyl said Tuesday.
Tough, Reid essentially said.
“Some of my Republican colleagues have the nerve to whine about having to stay and actually do the work of the American people,” Reid added. “We make large salaries…We could work as most Americans do during the holidays.”
Last year, Reid called the Senate to a vote on Christmas Eve to pass its version of the health care bill.
“It happened last year,” Kyl said. “It actually has happened in some previous years. It doesn’t have to happen this year.”
Reid has given little indication that he plans to change his mind.
“There is still Congress after Christmas,” he said Tuesday. “Congress ends on January 4th. We’re going to continue working on this stuff until we get it done.”
Watch: Reid slams Kyl for complaining about working over Christmas holiday