December 6th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Senate's presidential contenders may face a tough choice

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may put some of the Democratic presidential candidates in awkward spot this weekend.

The Nevada Democrat told reporters Thursday he will schedule a Senate vote on the Energy Bill this Saturday. The bill, which calls for a fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020, passed the House earlier Thursday by a vote of 235-181.

But the vote is expected to be considerably tighter in the Senate, where Republicans have threatened to filibuster the measure and Reid may need to muster at least 60 votes to block that action. To that end, Reid said he has asked the four Senate Democrats running for president – Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Chris Dodd of Connecticut – to head back to Capitol Hill Saturday.

But with less than a month to go until the Iowa caucuses – and no clear frontrunner – Reid may have hard time getting the candidates back inside the Beltway.

Obama especially will have a difficult time making the trip to Washington. He and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey are set to make a highly anticipated tour through the Hawkeye State Saturday before heading to South Carolina together on Sunday.

The Senate offices of two of the presidential candidates say they have been told a Saturday vote is only a possibility. So far, none have said they plan to return to Washington that day.

- CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Yellin contributed to this report

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Chris Dodd • Hillary Clinton • Iowa • Joe Biden
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    I believe that the people, who's vote they want will understand and applaud them for taking the time to vote on this important issue. There is in my humble opinion no valid reason for not going back to Washington and voting.
    The ones that don't go and vote will pay the price in the voting booth.

    December 7, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  2. erika morgan black dimond wa

    There is no reason not to demand 70 miles by 2010! What is the problem with these milktoast congress persons, and the vote should be unaminous. They are still in the pockets of the oil industry, nothing has changed since the days of the Robber Barons.

    December 7, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  3. Eric, SI, NY

    Anyone who skips this vote is on the line of being crossed off my list.

    December 7, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  4. Jonathan, New York, NY

    Why do the Republicans not want a higher fuel economy standard?? Makes no sense.

    December 7, 2007 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  5. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Since Mr. Obama missed a couple of other "very important" Senate votes. His passion for sitting on the fence will probably purvail on this one. The law requires all voting to be done "in-person" because a qourum present is required by law. I am sure Hillary will be there. The Republicans won't care–first because Cheney handles ALL their energy issues, and second: because–the (veto)"pencil pusher down the street" is going to veto the bill anyway.

    December 7, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  6. Michael Arnaud-Glen Burnie, MD.

    Let me see if I've got this straight,
    an important vote is going to happen in the Senate on Saturday, and the four senators running for President are so busy running for an election that is still 11 months off that they can't take the time to go back to DC to do the jobs that they have been elected to do? Shouldn't they wait until the Congressional recess starts to keep campaigning, and do the job they are getting paid for. I don't remember anything saying that if you want to run for President, you don't have to go to work when it needs you to be there.

    December 7, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. New Yorker

    They were elected to serve their constituents not their own ambitions. We'll see how many care about that.

    December 7, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. Tim, Atlanta GA

    I hope all the Democrat presidential contenders turn up for this as it is a very important vote. As far as missing other votes is concerned, it really doesn't matter unless the vote is really close. The Iran vote mentioned above passed 76-22, so Obama missing it didn't make a difference. However, if he or anyone else misses the upcoming Energy bill vote, where 60 votes is needed, it really will look bad.

    December 7, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Chanda, Alabama

    And they're still getting PAID as Senators, whether they do their job or not. If I took time off my job and missed typing up my reports, telling my boss I wanted to do work on a personal project, I'd be booted out the door. These guys should be fired, especially Mr. "Vote Present, Don't Take a Stand on Anything" Obama.

    December 7, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Whoops. Looks like Harry lost again..

    December 7, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Xavier, Washington, DC

    It's clear that the purpose of this Saturday vote is to disrupt Obama's Oprah rally. There's no reason why this vote has to be taken on Saturday, a day when the Senate nornally doesn't do business. Sen Reid can schedule this vote any time he wants. This vote is too critical for Reid to be playing politics.

    December 7, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Ryan, New Jersey

    I agree that this vote's timing AND Reid's public outcry for the Senator's to return stinks to high heaven of a clever ploy to derail Obama. Important votes are rarely if EVER held on weekends when most congressmen and women head home anyway. Not to mention the fact that there is no reason this vote needs to happen ASAP. On top of THAT, it's been widely speculated that Bush will veto the bill if it's even allowed to come to a vote by the Senate Republican party. The media needs to do their job and call this for what it is: A political hit job.

    December 7, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. ED winter park fl

    I believe that Nancy and Harry need to go on an exploritory [SLOW BOAT] cruise to china long enough to get through and replace both because of incompetence. You folks know how the system works and you have continually for one year overplayed your hand and made this democratic congress as big a laughing stock as Bush. This country will be better off under a GOP house and senate that the demos can try to emulate and be obstructionists. A 78 yr old vet and once proud democrat.

    December 7, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
1 2