It’s official — U.S. senators will be staying put, working in the national capital, instead of heading back home for most of the traditional August recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled the month-long August recess Tuesday because of the “historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees” and their failure to pass 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 Tuesday. “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.”
Senators are expected to take a week-long break during the first week of August before returning to Washington, D.C, and working through the rest of the month.
President Donald Trump has long railed against Senate Democrats for their unprecedented slow-walking of hundreds of his nominees. Trump tweeted about the obstruction and the need for McConnell to cancel the recess on May 12, writing, “Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!”
The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME. Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders praised McConnell on behalf of the Trump administration during Tuesday’s briefing.
“The president and the administration applaud Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his decision to cancel the majority of the August recess and remain in session,” Sanders said. “There has been historic obstruction by Senate Democrats, and there is a long to-do list, including important nominations and appropriations bills, that we hope they can get taken care of.”
The Judicial Crisis Network’s (JCN) Carrie Severino also lauded McConnell and berated Senate Democrats on Twitter for resisting the Trump administration’s attempts to fill key judicial vacancies with qualified candidates.
“Thanks @SenateMajLdr for standing up to historic obstruction in the Senate. Twice as many judicial vacancies have been created under Trump than have been filled, while Dems drag their feet. We still have lots of work to do!” Severino, JCN’s chief counsel and policy director, wrote.
Thanks @SenateMajLdr for standing up to historic obstruction in the Senate. Twice as many judicial vacancies have been created under Trump than have been filled, while Dems drag their feet. We still have lots of work to do! https://t.co/2PTpoXxtW0
— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) June 5, 2018
Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Chairman Jenny Beth Martin thanked McConnell in a statement Tuesday for taking a “step in the right direction” by forcing the Senate to remain in session for most of August.
“With Democrats abusing the rules of the Senate to force virtually every single one of President Trump’s nominees into 30 hours of debate before getting a vote, we need our senators present in the Capitol,” Martin said.
“To prove that you are serious about stopping the Democrats’ obstruction and getting the people’s’ work done properly, you should also keep the Senate in Washington, D.C., through this weekend to vote on the president’s nominees, and start working full five-day workweeks, as most workers in America do.”
Martin also urged McConnell to lead the way in using the month of August to hammer out smaller spending bills while rejecting “irresponsible” omnibus spending bills like the one passed in March 2018.
“We cannot continue to allow Congress to wait until our government is nearing another shutdown to present a 2,000-page bill and then give lawmakers a ‘choice’ of shutting down the government or passing a bill no one has read,” Martin warned. “That pattern has only led to irresponsible lawmaking — passing $2 trillion bills that no one has time to fully comprehend.”
Although Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) insisted Tuesday that Democrats “welcome” spending their August recess in Washington, D.C., he made no mention of stalling Trump’s nominees.
“Well, as you just heard from the majority leader, we’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time here in August,” Schumer said during a press conference Tuesday. “We Democrats welcome this additional time because it gives us the opportunity to address an issue that’s on the top of the mind of so many of the American people and one that Republicans have badly mishandled up till this point: health care.”
Citing rising health care premiums, Schumer pinned the blame on Trump and Republicans instead of on Democrats for supporting Obamacare.
“Now that the majority leader has acceded to President Trump’s demands on the August schedule, we want the president to be here in Washington working with us as well, because he caused a lot of these problems,” Schumer claimed.
“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.”
Some Democrats accused McConnell of canceling the majority of the August recess in order to keep vulnerable Democratic incumbents up for re-election in November away from their constituents.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who is up for re-election in November, blasted McConnell in a statement Tuesday.
“You know Mitch McConnell will do anything to keep all of us from going back to our constituents, touching base with them. So this is a totally politically motivated action on his part,” Hirono said.
Hirono also objected to McConnell’s charges of obstructionism against Trump nominees, saying, “If anything, there have been more confirmations fast-tracked to lifetime appointments to the judiciary, appointments of people who fit the ideological, conservative, right-wing Federalist Society perspective that Trump wants to put on the judiciary for lifetime appointments.”