A growing group of Senate Republicans — eager to break the logjam on nominations and must-pass spending bills — is pressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the August recess later this year.
The effort, led by Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), is a repeat of last year’s push in which a coalition of mostly newer GOP senators said that they would skip the annual August break if necessary to complete the legislative work that had gone unaccomplished. But the call takes on a new resonance this year, after President Trump said in March that he would refuse to sign another massive, catchall government spending bill like the $1.3 trillion measure Congress passed that month.
In a letter provided to The Washington Post in advance of its release, the Senate Republicans make the case that spending more time in session is particularly critical at a time when the chamber is facing what they call “historic obstruction” by Democrats. Republicans have been especially eager to show voters that they are accomplishing much of Trump’s agenda in an election year in which GOP control of both chambers is at stake.
“We stand ready to work Mondays and Fridays, nights as well as weekends, to ensure the funding process is not used to jam the president with a bad spending deal,” more than a dozen Republican senators wrote to McConnell (R-Ky.). “We, and the American people, expect Congress to work tirelessly to restore American greatness.”
McConnell agreed to delay the start of the annual August break by two weeks last year, although that delay was ultimately cut a week short. Senators advocating to cancel the recess said their call last year helped the chamber quickly confirm 77 nominees, an achievement that does not usually garner headlines but is critical to smooth operations at federal agencies.
Now, Senate Republicans note that there are just 67 working days left before the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, although that counts Fridays, when the chamber is rarely in session.
“This leaves only 12 weeks to get 12 appropriations bills out of committee and consider them on the floor,” they wrote. “That alone is an impossible task. When combined with the crucial need to confirm more nominees, it is clear we do not have enough time.”
Perdue held a news conference on this issue this week with conservative leaders, as well as White House legislative director Marc Short, who also endorsed forgoing the August break if needed.
“If we reach August and we still have not completed appropriations work or not confirmed our nominees, then of course we would like to see the Congress stay here and do its work,” Short said earlier this week on Capitol Hill. “It’s about getting the job done for voters across the country.”
IN addition to Perdue, also signing the letter were Senate Republicans Joni Ernst (Iowa), James Lankford (Okla.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), John Neely Kennedy (La.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.).