NOVEMBER 16TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate
By John Bresnahan
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who also happens to be a big player in Iowa Democratic politics, has been personally leaning on the four Senate Democrats running for president — Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.), Joe Biden (Del.) and Christopher Dodd (Conn.) — to be in Washington on Friday morning for an important cloture vote on the farm bill.
The Democratic presidential candidates, however, have a big debate in Las Vegas tonight on CNN. That town is a long way from DC, and the two-hour debate doesn’t end until 10 p.m. EST, meaning it will be very late for some very tired candidates.
But what Tom Harkin wants, Tom Harkin gets, especially just six weeks from the Iowa presidential caucus. Harkin has yet to endorse any candidate at this point, and it doesn’t appear that any member of the Democratic quartet wants to alienate him at this time.
“Chairman Harkin is frustrated that we cannot move such a strong, bipartisan measure that came out of his Committee without a dissenting vote,” said Jennifer Mullen, Harkin’s press secretary. “He believes that we cannot give up on this bill. Rural America, farming families and the nation are waiting. He fully supports the cloture vote as a necessary effort to enact a new farm bill and as manager of the bill is encouraging all Senators to vote for it.”
Harkin’s office also confirmed that he was “calling his friends on the campaign trail” and asking them to return to Washington for the vote.
So, despite having to take a red-eye back to the East Coast, all four Democrats have promised to be present in the Senate on Friday morning, according to their offices.
A top Senate Democratic aide joked that any Democrat ic candidate who didn’t get back in town for Friday’s vote “would face the wrath of God” from Harkin.
Senate Democrats and Republicans have been squabbling for days over which amendments can be offered on the farm bill, and neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are willing to back down, forcing the Friday vote.