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Health-care vote means senators will spend Christmas Eve at the Capitol

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Philip Rucker
Washington Post
Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2009

It’s the bill that stole Christmas.

Behind each cranky senator dealing his or her way toward a historic Christmas Eve vote on health-care reform is a cadre of staff members laboring day and night to make sense of the ever-changing 2,457-page bill, tutor their bosses, spin the press and break down what it means for constituents back home.

Senators and their staff members have been deprived of sleep and are subsisting on takeout pad Thai, cafeteria panini and office cookies. Stuck on Capitol Hill every day since Nov. 30, they have had no time for the gym, let alone Christmas — no time to buy a tree, unpack lights and ornaments, or shop for presents. Republican aides have taken to wishing one another a “Harry, Harry Christmas,” a not-so-subtle slight at Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), the Ebenezer Scrooge majority leader.

With the final vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act slated to start after sundown Dec. 24, senators and hundreds of their health policy analysts, press secretaries and other aides — not to mention the universe of police officers, clerks and student pages who keep the place humming — wishing to be with their families will instead spend the holiday in Washington. And there’s a possibility the Senate could be called back next week, to take up debt-limit legislation.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 4:56 am

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