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Housing Bill Delayed As Senate Scramble Continues

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday afternoon that a housing reform bill will be held over until after the Fourth of July recess as Senate Democrats seek to break a legislative logjam and pass a series of bills before adjourning.

Senate Democrats have set aside the housing bill until after the recess, after objections to the bill from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) forced Reid to temporarily abandon the measure in order to complete other pending matters. 

Despite the housing snag, Reid remained optimistic that the chamber could complete work on a massive war supplemental spending bill and on a Medicare fix to help doctors. The Senate could also pass an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; however, the path forward on that bill remains unclear. 

"I'm hopeful this will be worked out in the next 24 hours," Reid told Roll Call on Thursday, referring to the legislative backlog.

"If it isn't, it'll be worked out soon. We're going to stay here until we finish [the supplemental war spending bill] and we finish Medicare."

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the Senate was debating the FISA bill, with a vote on whether to proceed to the bill set for 12:45 a.m. Friday. However, that vote could be moved up if some Democratic senators who oppose certain provisions in the bill yield back some of their time.

Several Democrats have signaled their opposition to a provision in the bill to grant immunity to telecom companies that participated in the warrantless wiretapping program. However, it is unclear if they will stall the bill into late Thursday evening.

Calls to the office of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has been helping to lead the charge on the issue, were unreturned.

Following the FISA vote, the Senate still has to vote on the Medicare bill and the war supplemental before leaving for the week.

It remains to be seen how long these votes will take. Much depends on whether Republicans force a cloture vote on the Medicare bill, which would push a vote on the war supplemental back until Sunday.

Martin Kady II contributed to this report

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