ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: Senators and staffers watched CSPAN breathlessly from their offices Wednesday evening as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated they might not have to work this weekend.
The Senate has been working at a breakneck pace (for the Senate) on the health reform legislation. Lawmakers worked all last weekend on Democrats' health reform bill and they worked the Saturday before Thanksgiving and all signs indicated they would work this coming weekend too.
But Reid, who wants to get a healthcare bill finished by Christmas, urged Republicans on the Senate floor to forego a debate on several conference reports this weekend in order to give Senators and staffers the weekend off.
"I understand the Republican leader doesn't want us to do health care. I appreciate that. He and I have different positions on that," said Reid. "I see no reason to punish everybody this weekend and I hope the minority will give strong consideration to the proposal that i've made."
But in addition to shepherding the health care bill through the Senate, Reid is also locked in a tough reelection campaign.
And in that regard his desire for a weekend off is not so benevolent to other Senators and staffers.
It turns out Reid has a 1,000 plus per plate fundraiser scheduled for Saturday in New Orleans, according to one local paper, which also reports that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, a key swing moderate in the health care debate, will also be in attendance.
But Reid will not escape the health debate even in the Big Easy; the paper reports that Tea Party activists who oppose helath reform are planning to picket the fundraiser.