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McCain tees up hours-long bill-reading marathon

From NBC's Ken Strickland
When Republican Sen. Jim DeMint quietly threatened yesterday to burn up hours of floor time by making a clerk read the entire START treaty aloud, Senate leaders negotiated their way around it behind the scenes.

But they may not be so lucky later tonight.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., hasn't been quiet about his intention to make the Senate clerk read the the large spending bill that funds government operations for next year -- a bill Reid is expected to bring to the floor at about 6pm ET tonight.

McCain says the bill is loaded with an "outrageous" number of earmarks. "Let me be clear about one thing," McCain said on the Senate floor Tuesday night, "if the majority leader insists on proceeding to this monstrosity, the American people will know what's in it."

"I'll be joined by many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle to ensure that every single word of this bill is read aloud here on the Senate floor," he pledged.

But today, Reid stood firm against McCain and President Barack Obama, who also supports banning earmarks.

"I'm going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks, and my Republican colleagues who hate to vote for them but love to get them," he said.

The so-called "omnibus" spending bill is almost 2000 pages long.

Aides and floor staff say it could take anywhere between 40 to 50 hours to read aloud.