It seems that a notion apparently started by the Freedom Caucus is now growing in Republican lawmakers across Congress. Gripped by a stalemate on healthcare and the paralysis in making progress on tax reform and appropriation bills that are far from on schedule, Republican leadership is increasingly willing to consider cancelling the month-long August recess.
The negotiators for the Senate Republicans have declared that they are not close to a deal on healthcare reform and the scheduled vote by July 4th that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has pushed is unrealistic. The slow, if any, movement on healthcare has limited the work that could be done on budget resolution. This resolution is absolutely necessary to make a move on tax reform and the annual appropriations bills.
It’s easy to calculate that lawmakers only have about 45 days before the end of their fiscal year, September 30th. With the division that is still alive on health and tax reform, it looks like a very real possibility that the politicians could leave office in July and not have any major deals done.
“I think there’s a majority that probably supports being here,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), referring to the possibility of cancelling or cutting short the August recess. Perdue said that GOP lawmakers need to make progress so that they can avoid a government shutdown in September. “I don’t want to wait until the last week to be forced into a [continuing resolution]. That’s ridiculous,” he said of the likelihood Congress will have to pass a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. The Senator from Georgia is also concerned that if they don’t get some kind of tax package in the books this year, the country could move into another recession.
The Republican Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan, has also pushed for the past two weeks to cancel the August recess. “I think absolutely we should truncate or cancel recess. We have a huge agenda. I think we can get a lot of it done but what we don’t have is time,” said Sullivan. “We can make more time.” And Steve Daines (R-Mont) joined the ranks as well, “Congress has no business taking a recess when the people’s business remains unfinished.”
David Perdue did acknowledge that there are probably 15 Republican Senators that are strongly opposed to cancelling their summer recess. But there is a growing sense of panic about the decreasing number of days left on their legislative calendar.
The Freedom Caucus has been sounding the alarm for weeks. They issued a statement on June 6th calling on Speaker Paul Ryan to keep the chamber working all the way through Labor Day to “accomplish the priorities of the American people.”
One of the things driving the possibility of cancelation is the thought of having to go back to their home states with little accomplished. Chip Saltsman, a Republican strategist, said the worst thing Republicans could do would be to go back for a month long recess if they fail to pass the ObamaCare repeal. “If you’re going back and you’re meeting with constituents, what can you point to and say, ‘This is what we’ve done after the first six months of controlling the entire apparatus of the federal government?’” he said.
What are your thoughts about canceling the August recess?
Credit: The Hill