If repeal is going to have any chance, the Senate Majority Leader needs to indicate right now that the Senate will definitely vote on the stand-alone bill after the House sends it over.He should add: the same goes for DREAM, New START, and for that matter appointments. Reid can't pass those things if they don't have the votes, but if they have the votes, he can't let the clock beat them, at lesat not while there are still minutes remaining.
One key point here is that as long as Reid leaves it all up in the air, and especially if he refers to doing any particular bill "if" there's time, then it gives Republican opponents a major incentive to stall. That may well be what's behind Tom Coburn's plan to force a full reading of the appropriations bill. Sure, Coburn may just be grandstanding on spending he opposes, but he also surely believes that any time wasted on that is time in which the Senate cannot be considering the various other measures that he opposes.
The best strategy for Reid and the Democrats is to make it clear that the Senate will stay in until it's clearly specified business is finished, or until time expires. Today's comments from him are a good start , but Sargent is right: he should list exactly what he means to finish. Republicans might still consider it worth stalling to keep one or more agenda item from passing...but the pressure will be on them, from other Republicans who care more about enjoying the holidays than about whether (ultimately) obscure bills pass. In other words, the way to prevent a post-Christmas session may be to make it clear to everyone that such a session is certain if necessary.