Missoula Current: Skipping recess not a gimmick to keep Dems from campaigning, Daines said

Sen. Steve Daines on Wednesday continued his push to keep Congress in session through the August recess, saying it was needed to fix the budgeting process and unplug the backlog of presidential nominees.

It was not, Daines said, a gimmick to prevent Sen. Jon Tester and other Democrats from campaigning in their bid for reelection.

“It’s hard to find a good argument around why we should be recessing Congress when there’s so much work to be done,” said Daines, R-Montana. “I don’t think Congress has any business taking a recess when the people’s business remains unfinished.”

Daines, who joined a handful of Republican colleagues earlier this week to ask Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to waive the August recess, discussed the issue further in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Daines said just 38 legislative days remain before the end of the fiscal year, and he looks to have the budget passed before that date, which arrives on Sept. 30.

When asked, he added that Congress had roughly 48 hours to read the last spending bill, which arrived six months into the fiscal year and stood roughly 2,200 pages long.

“It’s ridiculous and unacceptable and needs to change,” Daines said. “We need to get rid of the omnibus process and go back to regular order. That’s the call we’re making to leadership in the U.S. Senate on both both sides, for Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.”

Daines also expressed frustration with the 276 presidential nominees waiting for appointment. He blamed Democrats for obstructing the process using cloture – a procedure to place a time limit on considering a bill or other legislative matters.

Daines said cloture was used one time during G.H. Bush’s presidency, 10 times during Bill Clinton’s tenure, four times for G.W. Bush, and 17 times during Barrack Obama’s first term.

“Contrast that to the first 17 months of President Trump’s presidency and cloture has been used 93 times,” Daines said. “It’s being abused. This obstructionism has created a lot of waste of time in the U.S. Senate and it’s why we need to use the time we have, including the August recess, to stay in session doing the people’s business.”

Earlier in the week, Daines joined several Republican lawmakers in urging McConnell to cancel the recess. On Wednesday, he said some remain resistant to that effort.

As Senate Majority Leader, McConnell, R-Kentucky, dictates the calendar.

“There’s some traditions of the Senate and so forth that continues to perpetuate business as usual, so yes, there’s some resistance from some,” Daines said. “It’s this new generation of the Senate that’s looking at what’s happening here and saying the status quo isn’t acceptable.”

Daines said the request to keep Congress in session during August had nothing to do with preventing lawmakers, particularly Democrats like Sen. Tester, from campaigning back home. That theory was raised on Tuesday after the request to keep Congress in session was made.

“The American people elect us to get results and get the job done,” Daines said. “They don’t elect us to campaign. That’s one of the frustrations the American people have. There’s far too much time spent on fundraising activities and campaigning, and not enough time focused on moving legislation through.”