The Senate is currently muddling through the process of amending and approving urgent legislation to reauthorize several domestic aid programs -- including extended unemployment benefits -- that expired on June 1 after the Senate adjourned for its Memorial Day recess.
The Senate will not get the legislation done until next week at the earliest. To the hundreds of thousands of people who are missing unemployment checks, the Senate's slowness can be maddening. But on Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor and assured America the upper chamber would be getting down to business.
"We are going to have to work hard on this legislation," he said. But Reid cautioned they wouldn't work too hard: "We will not be able to work late today because of some events that are taking place away from the Capitol tonight that involve both Democratic and Republican Senators."
Several important primary elections, that is, including one that determined Reid's Republican opponent in November, who will likely be something of a softball to Reid. The following morning Reid and the gang returned to the floor of the Senate. He wanted to discuss the previous day's events -- not the elections, though.
"I watched on television last night much of the performance of this 21-year-old phenom, Stephen Strasburg," said Reid of the Washington Nationals pitcher who had just pitched his first game. "I watched not only him pitch but the interview after the game. He is 21 years old. He carried himself so well. In 7 innings, he struck out 14 Major League Baseball players. He did it very well. He is right-handed, but he reminded me so much of Sandy Koufax because he throws more than 100 miles an hour."
Reid continued talking about Strasburg until Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) interrupted: "I say to my friend from Nevada, I was there. I had a chance to see Strasburg. As remarkable as the 14 strikeouts my friend referred to is the fact he did not walk anybody. What a remarkable athlete. We can only hope and pray that his arm holds up and that he has the kind of career everyone is anticipating. There was literally electricity in the air. It was an exciting event. It was great to be there."
Reid thanked McConnell for joining him in praising Strasburg. "From this work in which we are engaged, which is always so serious, it is nice once in a while to divert our attention to something that is a little more relaxing," said Reid. "That baseball game last night was not relaxing, but it sure was a lot of fun."
Oh, by the way: "My staff just indicated that I said we would not be in on Friday and Monday," said Reid. "We probably will be in; there will just be no votes."
McConnell and Reid went on to discuss Nats draft choice Bryce Harper and agreed to attend Nats games together next year.
WATCH: Reid and McConnell talk baseball
Here's a transcript:
Mr. President, as a little sidenote, because we have 5 months to campaign all over the country, including Nevada, I want to take a pause and think about some of the things going on in the country.
One of the things going on in the Nation's Capital is tremendously interesting to me, and that is baseball. I watched on television last night much of the performance of this 21-year-old phenom, Stephen Strasburg. I watched not only him pitch but the interview after the game. He is 21 years old. He carried himself so well. In 7 innings, he struck out 14 Major League Baseball players. He did it very well. He is right-handed, but he reminded me so much of Sandy Koufax because he throws more than 100 miles an hour. He throws a curveball about 85 miles an hour. People who follow baseball know that is remarkable. That is great control. The reason I mention that is because he was the No. 1 draft choice for the Washington Nationals.
The No. 1 draft choice for the Washington Nationals a couple of days ago was a 17-year-old boy from Las Vegas, NV, named Bryce Harper. When Bryce Harper was 15 years old, he hit a home run more than 550 feet, which is a Mickey Mantle-type of home run, which Mickey Mantle did not do often. He took the GED when he finished his sophomore year in high school. He went immediately to junior college and played in the Junior College World Series this year. He is a wonderful young man. He has a great family. He is going to be in Washington playing Major League Baseball very soon. I think he will probably start playing in the Major Leagues at about the same age as Al Kaline did, who was a Major League Baseball player. He throws as well as Al Kaline. He hits probably better than Al Kaline did.
Washington is fortunate to have these two fine young men. Not only are they great baseball players, but from everything we know about the two young men, they are good role models for young men and women around the country.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, will the majority leader yield before changing the subject?
Mr. REID. Yes.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Nevada, I was there. I had a chance to see Strasburg. As remarkable as the 14 strikeouts my friend referred to is the fact he did not walk anybody. What a remarkable athlete. We can only hope and pray that his arm holds up and that he has the kind of career everyone is anticipating. There was literally electricity in the air. It was an exciting event. It was great to be there.
Mr. REID. I so appreciate my counterpart talking about that. I wish I could have been there. But it was, even watching it on TV--gee whiz, there are those of us who love sports, and I know my friend loves basketball, especially that which takes place in Kentucky and the others, of course, in Kentucky. But this was really a remarkable performance. For Washington, which has been so starved for a good athletic team of some kind, it was nice.
I say to my friend through the Chair, when I was going to law school here, I watched two Major League Baseball games in the old Griffith Stadium. Oh, they were so much fun. I don't know who won. I am sure the Washington team lost. I know the two teams they played both times were the Yankees, where I watched Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and all those great players.
From this work in which we are engaged, which is always so serious, it is nice once in a while to divert our attention to something that is a little more relaxing. That baseball game last night was not relaxing, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Mr. President, my staff just indicated that I said we would not be in on Friday and Monday. We probably will be in; there will just be no votes.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, if I may add one point, the majority leader mentioned that Bryce Harper was drafted by the Nationals on Monday. I look forward to him being the next Nevada contribution to the Washington area, right after my friend the majority leader.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I say to my friend, it is a wonderful story. His brother, who was a great pitcher at California State Fullerton--which won the NCAA National Baseball Championship--his brother thought so much of his little brother, who is 4 years younger than he is, that he transferred from California State Fullerton to a junior college so he could play with his brother. The elder Harper is a pitcher, and the catcher is his little brother. The senior member of the brotherhood of Harper ball players, his record was 12 and 1 this year.
Another word about Bryce Harper. Community college baseball is very competitive. The record for the most home runs for any player in junior college baseball was 12. Bryce Harper hit 30. His batting average as a 17-year-old boy playing with men was .450. In one game, he was six for six. I think he had three or four home runs. It is an interesting story.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I will say that what one can conclude from this is that next year, when the Senate is not in session in the evening, both the Democratic and Republican leaders will be at the Nats games.
Mr. REID. I think that is pretty clear.
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