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Analysis: Senate's Slow Final Vote, Polls Show Dems Up In Virginia

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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are wrapping up business before heading back on the campaign trail until the November elections, though not as soon as some had hoped. Meanwhile, with new polling in Virginia out this week, some expectations about voting in the commonwealth are being reconsidered. David Hawkings, editor-in-chief of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt Bush about the week's political news. Here are some highlights. 

When the stopgap funding bill in the Senate will get its final vote: "The senate is a very slow moving place," Hawkings says. "This bill is going to get passed, but at this point, it looks like it won't be until 8 a.m. Sunday when we have finished passing the bill, unless the senators who are holding up the works relent, which is always possible. The closer they get to that deadline, the closer they get to missing their flights home this weekend."

On what's holding it up: "Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who hopes to be the Tea Party movement's favorite senator, is holding things up," Hawkings says. "He says he has no interest in going home before Sunday if that is what it takes to get what he wants, which is a vote on legislation to cut off aid to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt." 

Why polls are now showing President Obama with a slight lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in Virginia and other swing states: "I do think there's one way in which the president has been able to gain, and that's on these across the board defense spending cuts, known as "sequestration," which have been hanging over Washington all year," Hawkings says. "It would have a huge impact on the Virginia economy, and now it doesn't look like it's going to happen. The president has essentially signaled a reversal of his position of a year ago which was that this was just a punishment Washington was going to have to endure. He now seems ready, as everyone is, to come up with some sort of deal between the election and the end of the year to postpone these or mitigate them." 

Why Tim Kaine appears to be taking a slight lead over George Allen in the Virginia Senate race: "It could be that same trend. It'll be interestin to see whether what happened in debate yesterday will change that at all," Hawkings says. "Kaine, like many Democrats in addition to the president, are getting a significant although slight statistical lead in all these polls. Several polls out this week show Democratic candidates in all the close races getting an uptick.: 

How the campaigns have affected the Senate's schedule: "That's one of the reasons the Senate is going to be here this weekend. Senator Scott Brown is now trailing in Massachusetts and, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that's why Republicans are slow-walking this bill to the end, because Sen. Brown is afraid to debate his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, and using senate business as an excuse," Hawkings says. "And [Sen.] Jon Tester (D-Mont.), one of the only vulnerable Democrats in the senate, seems to have a little uptick, and at the last minute this weekend he's going to get a vote on his favorite bill to boost his reelection, which would expand the rights of sportsman, hunters and fisherman."

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