TWO young lobbyists sit at the back of the empty committee room. Senate aides distribute loose-leaf books among 13 places along five rows of long tables.
The minutes tick by on a clock-calendar at the front of the room. It shows the correct time, 5 p.m., but the date is a month behind.
"Shall we call their offices?" one aide asks another.
He shakes his head no.
By 5:30, three senators have arrived. The Senate Economic Affairs Committee can function as long as 13 of its 25 members show up. Fifteen minutes later, a waiter enters with a tray of water glasses, and Sen. Severo Gones says, "Unfortunately, we have no quorum. We will advise you of the date …