GOP Freedom Caucus Calls to Cancel August Recess Gaining Momentum in Congress, White House

Congress, Capitol steps Official Photo by Caleb Smith
Official Photo by Caleb Smith

Republicans in Congress, having largely failed to enact any big money items of the agenda on which they were elected, are reportedly considering scrapping the August recess in an effort to pass some parts of their agenda.

This idea was first pushed by the House Freedom Caucus, and one apparently gaining support from within the White House.

The two headline items of this Congress were supposed to be tax reform and repeal-and-replace of ObamaCare. But tax reform has not yet got out of the starting blocks, while healthcare reform is looking doubtful in the Senate. The Hill reported Monday that Republicans think that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) suggestion of a July 4 vote on the healthcare bill is unrealistic.

The Hill also notes that the stalemate on health care also means that a budget resolution — the vehicle needed to pass the healthcare bill with a simple majority vote — is also being held up. Without that budget resolution, tax reform and annual appropriations bills cannot move forward either.

This raises the distinct possibility that Republican lawmakers go back to their districts for the summer recess empty-handed and with no significant achievements, with the exception of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The idea of canceling the recess was first floated by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) said earlier this month that House and Senate leaders should scrap the recess if no tax reform was introduced by July. The group also released a statement on June 8 saying it supported Congress staying in session “to continue working to accomplish the priorities of the American people.”

However, fellow member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) cast a dim view of the state of talks on tax reform, telling a Heritage Foundation tax event: “Right now a budget cannot pass in the House.”

Now, amid what The Hill described as “growing panic” among Republicans, more lawmakers are getting on board with the idea of canceling the recess. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) told the outlet that “there’s a majority that supports being here.” while Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) said, “Congress has no business taking a recess when the people’s business remains unfinished.”

The plan appears to have White House backing. On Monday President Trump expressed his irritation with Democrats, accusing them in a tweet of wanting to stop “tax cuts, good healthcare and Border Security.”

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has supported the idea, while White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Monday that it was important that Congress picked up the pace.

“When he says drain the swamp, it’s not just about getting rid of all the crocodiles in the water that we don’t need. It’s about moving at a different pace,” she said. “I feel very confident that we’ll get health care and taxes passed this year.”

However, sources on Capitol Hill told Fox News Monday that convincing Republican leadership to cancel the recess was “unlikely.” A GOP Senate aide made similar noises to the Hill.

“Are they going to get all 52 Senate Republicans to do this?” the aide asked.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY