Mitch McConnell cancels Congress’s summer vacation

source
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled the August recess, requiring senators to stay in Washington for the summer.
  • McConnell cited the backlog of executive nominees for the decision.

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed colleagues on Tuesday that the August recess, during which lawmakers return to their home states for constituent work and campaigning, will not be a full five weeks this year.

McConnell made good on the annual threat to keep the Senate in session for August, but also allowing senators to return to their states for just one week earlier in the month.

The Kentucky Republican said that Democrats’ slow-rolling executive nominees was the catalyst for cancelling recess and that the extended time in session will be spent working on confirmations and appropriations bills.

“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled,” McConnell said in a statement. “Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.”

The move will do more than cancel vacations for a hefty number of Senate staffers; it will effectively prevent vulnerable Democrats in red states, of which there are several, from hitting the campaign trail while their challengers have free roam across their respective states.

But Democrats played coy with the way a cancelled recess would effect their ability to campaign, instead welcoming the news with an eagerness to stay busy.

“I think it’s great,” Sen. Joe Manchin told Business Insider. “We’re hoping we can start working on Mondays and Fridays too. I’m going to ask that question.”

Manchin is up for re-election in West Virginia, where President Trump won by double digits in 2016. But Manchin suggested a heavier workload across the Capitol too, saying he hopes McConnell “can encourage Paul Ryan to stay in too and we can really get something done.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters working during August is a “wonderful great opportunity” and that Democrats will pressure Republicans to focus on health care throughout the summer, but described McConnell’s decision as deceptive.

“Mitch McConnell can’t have it both ways,” Schumer said. “He spends all his time bragging to his base that they’ve appointed more judges than anyone else and now he’s saying they haven’t appointed enough. It just doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Schumer also said that Trump should stay in Washington during August.

“We assume he’ll be here in Washington working right alongside us,” Schumer said. “Given the urgency of these weeks, we presume he won’t be jetting off to Bedminster or Mar a Lago, or spending countless hours on the golf course, given the pain his policies have caused the middle class, particularly on health care.”

But Trump will likely hit the campaign trail on behalf of several candidates challenging red state Democrats. He is easily one of the most powerful resources at rallies and events, which he has shown a large appetite for in the past.