WASHINGTON (CNN) - With just weeks to go until New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, John McCain is taking an unscheduled absence from the campaign trail and rushing back to Washington for a Senate vote on Iraq war funding.
The Arizona senator canceled most of Tuesday’s campaign events after learning that three amendments related to the war effort, all attached to government funding legislation, are scheduled for a vote tonight. Two of them, offered by Democrats, aim to end the mission in Iraq. The third, offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would provide $40 billion for the war in Iraq not already included in legislation passed by the House.
McCain’s vote may be a critical one - senators and aides on both sides say they are not sure if the McConnell amendment will get the 60 votes required to pass.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s office says she will not be returning from the trail. CNN has not yet heard back from presidential campaigns of the other sitting senators, Democrats Barack Obama of Illinois, Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put off until next year consideration of a bill that contains some controversial legal protections for the telecom industry. Democratic senators on the campaign trail had faced a challenge from Dodd to follow through on their pledges to support him in a planned filibuster of the measure.
–CNN’s Ted Barrett