WASHINGTON — A chorus of House and Senate Republicans is calling on congressional leaders to call off the five-week summer break next month to focus on unfinished agenda items.
The House and Senate are scheduled to leave town at the end of the day on July 28 and not return until after Labor Day.
On Friday, Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to make a case that 33 working days left before the end of the fiscal year “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 said.
The senators argued there are “five imperatives which must be accomplished this year,” including phase one of Obamacare repeal and replace, passing “a budget that serves as a reconciliation vehicle for reforming our outdated tax code,” and avoiding a government shutdown on Sept. 30 by striking an appropriations deal. “Also, we must deal with our debt limit before that approximate date,” they added. “If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform.”
They noted that a budget and all 12 appropriations bills have passed before Sept. 30 only four times over the past 43 years.
“However, the stakes are much higher this year. We simply cannot afford to lose any additional time in resolving these issues when tax reform is hanging in the balance. Robust change to our tax code is our single most important economic growth tool, and there is already growing anticipation for us to act. Failure to deliver could have devastating economic consequences,” the senators continued, vowing “to thoughtfully and diligently work through these issues” if given the time.
“We simply recognize that making America great again requires a certain time commitment. Delivering meaningful results was never assumed to be easy, but the millions of Americans who placed their confidence in our leadership expect our full and best effort.”
On CNN Sunday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) suggested canceling August recess to work on the healthcare bill: “Let’s do it in full public view and have hearings and get to work on something that works better than Obamacare,” he said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), though, told Fox on Sunday that he thinks the healthcare bill can get done in time. “In fact, I think you could do this in the next three weeks, there are other bills out there that are sitting around that have bipartisan support,” he said. “Separate repeal and replace.”
On the House side, Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Dave Brat (R-Va.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), and Tom Garrett (R-Va.) wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), asking that he nix recess “to ensure there is enough time to address the long list of pressing issues on our docket.”
“We vowed to repeal Obamacare, pass pro-growth tax reform, reign in federal spending, and work towards balancing the budget. The American people put their faith in us and are counting on us to carry out these goals,” they wrote. “Prior to September 30, we must also find a path forward on passing a federal budget and appropriating funding for fiscal year 2018, reviewing the federal debt limit, and consider reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the National Flood Insurance Program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and more.”
“Our constituents expect us to work hard and will be disappointed if we shut down for four to five weeks when we could move our agenda forward. We have achieved some notable accomplishments you have rightly called singles and doubles, but working during August could facilitate hitting some home runs.”