During a procedural vote in the Senate early Saturday afternoon, reporters in the gallery could witness a taste of bipartisan relations that has been missing from the public discourse over government funding bills and negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member, could be seen milling about the floor, stopping to laugh with a number of Republican colleagues including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
On his way into the chamber to cast his vote, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stopped midway down the center aisle to put his arm around Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and chat with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who were standing alongside her.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Democratic Party leadership. Schumer at moments looked slightly exasperated, shaking his head and making small, outward gestures with his hands. Despite the apparent disagreement, the discussion appeared to be cordial.
The bipartisanship did not extend to the vote at hand, which would have cleared the way for a subsequent vote to raise the debt ceiling until 2014.
Today’s vote failed nearly along party lines.