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The Senate's war over Christmas

Bah-humbug. The parties are exchanging barbs over who the real Grinch is.

Republicans are saying Majority Leader Harry Reid is to blame for potentially keeping the Senate in session through Christmas.

Democrats are saying it's Republicans' fault, charging that senators like Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), have been operating from a playbook that could have been written by famed North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith: Delay, delay, delay.

"Christmas is a week from Saturday. I understand that. But I hope the Republicans understand it also. Because we are going to complete our work, no matter how long it takes in this Congress," said Reid at a Capitol Hill news conference today, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports. "We have to do the work of the American people. We've been stalled and stalled and stalled this whole time. "

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said, "It's completely and totally inappropriate to wrap all of this up into a 2,000-page bill and try to pass it the week before Christmas."

Reid: "I hate to report this to you, but there is still time after Christmas. So if Republicans think they can stall and stall and stall and if we take a break we're through. We're not through. Congress ends on Jan. 4th. So we're going to continue working on this stuff until we get it done."

Republicans penned a letter saying they would block any legislation until taxes and funding the government were resolved. The tax bill was passed today 81-19.

Kyl said he would do everything he could to stop the START nuclear treaty with Russia because of timing.

And DeMint had even wanted the entire omnibus and START treaty read into the record, something that could have taken 70 hours.

Kyl went so far as to claim Reid, a Mormon, was "disrespecting" Christmas.

"At some point you can no longer carry on the proposition that we're going to do this whole long list of things," Kyl said. "It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing -- frankly, without disrespecting the institution (meaning the Senate's need to move methodically on bills) and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff."

A testy Reid responded that it was "offensive" that Kyl said it was sacrilegious and disrespectful to stay in session during Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho.

*** UPDATE *** Reid's office released the following statement, hitting Kyl and DeMint for "sanctimonious lectures":

"As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas for all Christian faiths and families across America.

"I do not need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Senators Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.

"My question is where were their concerns about Christmas as they led filibusters on every major piece of legislation this Congress.

"Senate Republicans need look no further than themselves in casting blame for the predicament we are in right now.

"In this Congress, Republicans have waged 87 filibusters. They have used every trick in the book to delay legislation.

"In 15 minutes we are going to proceed to the START Treaty. Senator DeMint is going to make us read the entire treaty, in an effort to stall us from passing it.

"Then Senate Republicans are going to make us read the bill we need to pass in order to fund the government

"These are additional days of wasted time we could be using to pass legislation and get home for the holidays.

"Yet some of my Republican colleagues have the nerve to whine about having to stay and actually do the work the American people pay us for?

"Perhaps Senators Kyl and DeMint have been in Washington too long because in my state Nevadans employed in casinos and hotels have to work hard on holidays, including Christmas, to support their families.

"Most people don't get two weeks off yet alone one week off for Christmas. And those people who are lucky enough to have a job in these trying times need to work extra hours just to make ends meet.

"So it is deeply offensive to me and millions of working Americans across this country for any Senator to suggest that working through the Christmas holiday is somehow 'sacrilegious' or 'disrespectful.'

"The path to finishing this year lies in the hands of Senator Kyl, Senator DeMint and any other Senate Republican who are trying run out the clock or run out the door without finishing the American people's business.

"If they decide to work with us we can all have a happy holiday."