Conservative Senators Take Victory Lap as Mitch McConnell Cancels Summer Recess

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens to a question during a press conference after a closed-door Senate GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill, June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Senate GOP announced they will delay a vote on their health care bill until after …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday that to complete unfinished business, lawmakers will not take an August recess. That business includes addressing President Donald Trump’s hundreds of unconfirmed nominees and passing a budget by September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The decision came following pressure from Republicans and conservative groups that launched a #MakeCongressWorkAgain campaign in May to ask McConnell to keep the Senate in session on weekends and through August:

As Breitbart News reported, conservative senators sent a letter to McConnell about work that needed to be done before the end of the fiscal year.

“We continue to witness historic obstruction by the minority party when it comes to funding the federal government and confirming the president’s nominees,” the letter said. “If we are complicit we are on the track for another last-minute spending battle come September.”

“However, if we take action now, we can break the cycle of continuing resolutions and omnibus spending deals,” the letter said. “Therefore, we want to offer our full support to expedite floor consideration, even if we must work nights and weekends and forgo the August recess to get it done.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) spearheaded the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Roger Wicker (R-MS):

“President Trump said he would never sign another massive omnibus bill again,” Perdue told Breitbart News. “Congress only has 66 days to get next year’s funding bill to President Trump’s desk.”

“We need to take action now so President Trump is not jammed with another bad funding deal,” Perdue said. “We ought to work as long as it takes – including nights, weekends, and through the August recess if necessary – to get funding done and make progress on the backlog of nominees.”

“At this pace, it is unlikely the president will have all of his nominees confirmed before the end of his term,” the letter said.

“We and the American people expect Congress to work tirelessly to restore American greatness,” the letter continued. “The president has outlined an agenda that will unleash economic growth, strengthen our military, and rebuild our infrastructure.”

The letter concluded, “We play a critical role in advancing this agenda, so together let’s make Congress work again”:

The senators’ #MakeCongressWorkAgain campaign is supported by conservative groups, including the Tea Party Patriots and the Conservative Partnership Institute, which posted about Congress’s short work week and lack of productivity on its Facebook page.

“The U.S. Senate recessed at 3 p.m. Thursday, with no votes until 5 p.m. Monday,” the post said. “Most weeks, the Senate only works 2 1/2 days. Do you think Congress should be in D.C. working on President Trump’s nominations and policies like funding the border wall?”

Sen. Perdue; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots; Marc Short; White House director of legislative affairs and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who now works with CPI, held a press conference on May 11 to announce the campaign, as Breitbart News reported.

“We’re here today to demand that Congress do its work and get its work done on time on nominations and on spending,” Martin said at the press conference. “If they haven’t passed all spending bills by the end of July, they should cancel the August recess.”

“And if Congress hasn’t confirmed President Trump’s nominees by the end of July, they should cancel the August recess,” Martin said.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Breitbart News reported the Senate and House websites reveal both chambers adjourned on Thursday afternoon, held a “pro forma” on Friday (a parliamentary law that allows a short session in which no voting or business is taken up, yet lawmakers are protected for violating the no-more-than-three-days-off rule) ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

Both chambers held another pro forma session following Memorial Day and, after working on May 30 and 31, followed the same schedule until returning full-time on Monday.

That means Congress only worked for two days over that period.

Perdue said the same campaign last year resulted in the confirmation of 77 of Trump’s nominees ahead of the August recess.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.


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