If it seems like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is always threatening senators they’ll be working on the weekend (not to be confused with working for the weekend), it’s because he is.
Our friends at Sunlight Foundation helped us crunch the numbers, and Reid said “weekend” on the Senate floor close to 300 times since 1996 and 30 times this session.
As Congress heads out for its five-week recess (without a whole lot to brag about back home), Reid told senators Thursday to expect to work much harder when they return in September for two weeks and two days before they leave again to campaign.
“There’ll be no weekends off. There’s only two weekends until we go home, and everyone should not plan things on those weekends,” Reid said.
Undoubtedly the 20 senators up for reelection already do have other plans.
But much like a tactic parents use with children (insert Congress as toddlers joke here), Reid’s threats have often been empty. The Senate hasn’t worked one single weekend day this year, Senate records show, and in 2013 worked over just two weekends, both during the federal government shutdown.
But that hasn’t stopped Reid from raising the whip.
From the Congressional Record as analyzed for the Loop by the Sunlight Foundation:
March 24, 2014
“We have so much to do this work period and we have so much to do this week. I know I have said this on other occasions, and we have been able to work things out so it hasn’t been necessary, but everyone should understand we have a lot to do and we may have to be in this weekend.”
March 24, 2014
“We are going to have to finish those I just outlined now, which means that if we can’t get some way forward without a lot of procedural roadblocks, we will have to be in this weekend. It is not pleasant for some people, but I have alerted everyone as often as I can. We have been able to avoid the weekends, but this work period is very significant. We have a lot we have to get done. We may either have to start spending a weekend here and there or what we would have to do is just take the week we were supposed to start our Easter break and work that week. It would be a short week, but we would at least be here. So I just alert everyone so people can’t come back and say, “Why didn’t you tell us?” Because I have been saying this for–at least all day.”
March 13, 2014
“Everyone should understand–I hope it is not necessary–because of the enormous amount of work we have to do this month, Senators should be on notice–all Senators–that there is a high probability that we need to be in session on the weekend of March 29 and 30, before the end of the month.”
January 27, 2014
“The Senate must also consider a number of critical national security and judicial nominations in the coming weeks. With the help of my Republican colleagues, we could process these nominations swiftly and painlessly–without late night or weekend votes. As always, it will depend upon the level of cooperation we receive from the Republicans.”
December 19, 2013
“Everyone should understand, the Senate will not wait until the New Year to consider these nominations. These are critical nominations. If that means working through the weekend, next week, so be it. The Senate will finish its work before we leave for the holidays. It is our constitutional duty.”
December 19, 2013
“Without cooperation from our Republican colleagues, Senators should expect late night and weekend votes.”
December 18, 2013
“I read that the Republican leadership may also force the Senate to work through the weekend and next week by dragging out the consideration of several important executive nominations. That would be unfortunate. But if it happens, it happens. The Senate could wrap up work on the budget bill, pass a defense authorization legislation, and confirm these nominees by tomorrow afternoon. The only thing keeping us here is more Republican obstruction.”
December 9, 2013
“This week the U.S. Senate begins a short 2-week work period, and I hope it is only 2 weeks. But it could bleed over the weekend before Christmas. I know I come to the floor and say a lot of times that we are going to have to work weekends, but we may really have to work the next couple weekends. We have had a wonderful 2-week break. It was important for all of us.”
November 12, 2013
“I put Senators on notice last week and the week before that we are going to do whatever it takes to accomplish exactly that in order to finish this bill–even if it means working this coming weekend and hopefully not the next weekend but possibly that too.”
June 19, 2013
“I tell everyone again that we are doing our utmost to try to make it as convenient as possible for people who have amendments determined by a vote or in some other manner, but we may have to be here this weekend. I hope that is not the case. I have alerted people about this for days now.”
June 19, 2013
“So at 11:30 tomorrow I will come in and see if we have a path forward to getting this bill in a position where we can finish it next week without working the weekend. But if we can’t, the weekend is still in play.”
June 17, 2013
“My colleagues should be aware, unless we begin voting on amendments soon, we will need to work through the weekend in order to finish the bill before July 4.”
June 13, 2013
“I want to alert everybody that next weekend we will be working on this bill. We are going to finish this bill before the July 4 recess. Everyone should understand that. Everyone has had adequate warning, notice, that we are going to work next weekend. That means Friday, Monday, and that includes Saturday and Sunday to get this legislation done. If something comes up and we do not have to do that, good, but as things now stand, I see that is something we have to do. I want to make sure people know. They know because we have to move forward on this legislation.”
April 25, 2013
“One way or another we are going to finish work on this measure before we leave for our instate work period, even if it takes the weekend. Those people–that handful of people–should understand that. The calendar is simply too full to allow this important measure to hold over until next month.”
March 18, 2013
“We will stay as long as it takes to complete work on both the continuing resolution and the budget resolution even if that means working on the weekend and into the Easter and Passover recess. I understand that Passover is on Monday, so if we don’t finish over the weekend, we would have to come back after Passover, which would be terribly unfortunate, but we need some cooperation from Senators on both sides of the aisle. I am hopeful and confident we can get there.”