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Senate vote threatened Brown’s debate attendance

WASHINGTON -- Senator Scott Brown raised the possibility he might miss tonight’s lead-off debate with Elizabeth Warren because of the Senate voting schedule, before Democratic leaders challenged that assertion and Brown himself headed to the airport for a flight back to Boston.

“We have no more votes today. No more votes today. It’s obvious to me what’s going on,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the chamber, said on the Senate floor. “I’ve been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who had a debate tonight doesn’t want to debate. Well, he can’t use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today.”

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Earlier, Reid had told senators that he was scheduling their next votes for Saturday and Sunday morning.

WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller, the moderator of tonight’s debate, said Brown confirmed for him on the phone that he would come to the debate. “We’re good to go for tonight,” he said. “A little bit of drama. I had brown hair before today began.”

The uncertainty was sparked when, just after 2 p.m., Brown told a Globe reporter during a hallway interview that he would skip the debate if Democrats scheduled votes deep into the afternoon or this evening.

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“Bottom line is, the people have sent me down here to do my job -- and that’s to vote,” the senator said.

Voting is “the one thing that I can’t delegate to the staff,” he said in a hallway interview. “I’ve only missed one vote,” he said, blaming the missed vote on a delayed flight.

Data compiled by GovTrack.us corroborate Brown’s statement. According to the website, Brown missed just one vote out of 708 since February 2010.

“If I can catch a 4:30 plane, I’ll hustle there,” Brown said.

The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“If we’ve got votes, I’ll make them,” Brown said. “I’m sure if we don’t make [the debate] tonight, we’ll reschedule it for Monday or something.”

Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at bobby.calvan@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.
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