Eyeing midterm elections, GOP cuts Senate recess time


The House of Representatives is still scheduled to be away the entire month of August.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on June 5 that he was canceling most of the Senate's August recess to give lawmakers time to pass spending bills before a September 30 deadline and to confirm more of President Donald Trump's appointees. In a statement Tuesday, the majority leader said he wanted to use the recess to confirm nominees and pass appropriations bills. Something had to give, and McConnell picked the recess.

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Toomey was joined in the move by U.S. Sens.Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Asked Tuesday if he was trying to leverage an agreement on nominees with Democrats in exchange for freeing recess time back up for them, McConnell dismissed the possibility of altering his plans. "It just doesn't pass the laugh test".

Last year, McConnell also announced he would delay the chamber's five-week August break by two weeks. McConnell said that to make progress on spending bills and nominations, "it's necessary for us to be here in August and to do our work". The funding deadline is September 30, just weeks before the midterm elections.

Without a deal, the moderates say they'll push ahead with enough signatures on a so-called discharge petition to force the vote over the leadership's objections.

But the cancellation also has another benefit that McConnell did not mention.

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Several Republican senators have been cautioning Trump against pardoning himself although they maintained that there was no evidence to prove the allegations that Trump's campaign had colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 elections, Bloomberg reported. "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", Schumer said, in reference to two of Trump's favorite self-owned destinations.

The new August schedule is problematic for one vulnerable Republican: Nevada Senator Dean Heller, who is facing reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016. The measure, among other things, codifies the abortion rights in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision into state law. Bill Nelson of Florida, described the cancellation as a purely political maneuver. More time in Washington means less time on the campaign trail back home. "And that's what he's doing".

Given those pressing issues, it seems unlikely the GOP will agree to consider the Democrats' health care wish list.

Corker's effort has been bolstered by another strong-willed supporter: Pennsylvania GOP Sen.

Nevertheless, some Republicans are concerned that the cancellation may become a regular occurrence, but this year is quite different than others.

Aides and lawmakers stated the March effort had to some extent succeeded, with the White Home crafting exemptions for a number of shut allies - till the administration introduced these exemptions for the EU, Mexico and Canada lapsed this week.

Senators may be stuck in Washington in August but don't expect the House to follow suit.

"Items as contentious as that's likely to be, we'll see, but I'm not going to call it up free-standing", McConnell told reporters at his weekly press conference. "If the Senate isn't able to get that work done then they can stay in August and get it done, that's fantastic".