Cancel August recess for Congress, group of Senate Republicans say

A group of 10 Senate Republicans are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel their scheduled August recess from Washington in order to catch up on their legislative agenda on which they’re falling behind.

The relatively small faction among the 52 Senate Republicans want McConnell “to cancel the Senate’s scheduled August state work period if meaningful progress has not been made on the following five priorities: fixing health care, funding the government, dealing with the debt ceiling, passing the budget resolution and improving our tax code,” they wrote in a letter to the Kentucky Republican Friday.

There are only 33 potential working days left until the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, the letter said.

“This does not appear to give us enough time to adequately address the issues that demand immediate attention. Therefore, we respectfully request that you consider truncating, if not completely foregoing, the scheduled August state work period, allowing us more time to complete our work,” they continued.

The letter was signed by Sens. David Perdue, R-Georgia, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, Luther Strange, R-Alabama, Dan Sullivan, R-Arkansas, Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina and Steve Daines, R-Montana.

Lawmakers are on recess next week for July 4 and the Senate is scheduled to leave Washington again by July 28 and not return to Capitol Hill until Sept. 5.

The conservative Freedom Caucus in the House called on GOP leaders earlier this month to cancel recess in order to work on tax reform and other priorities.

Neither McConnell nor Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has suggested lawmakers’ month-long recess could be canceled this year. In recent years, recess hasn’t been cut short despite the various government funding and debt ceiling deadlines Congress has faced. Last summer, House Democrats called on their Republican colleagues to cancel their seven-week recess to tackle the Zika, opioid epidemic and deal with gun violence. It was never canceled.

In addition to the goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare and passing tax reform, Republicans face major deadlines to fund the government by Oct. 1 and avoid a shutdown, and to lift the debt ceiling and avoid a default on the nation’s debt. The Congressional Budget Office estimates Congress will have to deal with the debt limit by early-to-mid October.