The U.S. House of Representatives left for their annual August vacation on July 26. They will return to work on Monday, September 3. The U.S. Senate began their vacation on August 1 and won’t return until the 15th of August. It must be terrible being a senator who only gets two weeks rather than a representative who gets a whole month of vacation. Of course, I’m only kidding.
Why is this a big deal? Doesn’t Congress go on vacation every August? What makes this different is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that the Senate would work through their August vacation in order to get the people’s business done. According to USA Today, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced…that he would keep lawmakers in Washington for most of the month. His main reason? Democrats have displayed ‘historic obstruction’ by holding up President Trump’s nominees…” This was great news, only if it were real news. As it turns out, the Senate left Washington, D.C. on August 1 and will not return until August 15. That is a two-week vacation, not one. Also, it is misleading to start off a press conference by stating, “I’ve canceled the August recess.” That is not entirely true. You’ve shortened the August recess.
In June, McConnell got the headlines he wanted. The Hill published a story with the headline “McConnell cancels Senate’s August recess”. NPR published a similar misleading headline. As these headlines were published, conservatives thought we had a victory on our hands. We thought that we forced the Senate to actually work. Little did we know, we were being tricked.
Although the Senate is returning on August 15, the reality is that not much will get done until Monday, August 20.
Congress still has to pass 9 out of 12 appropriation bills to fund the government by September 30. Not to mention, 264 of President Trump’s nominees have yet to be confirmed by the Senate, according to the Washington Post. Out of all of this, the most egregious news is that Congress is holding “pro-forma” sessions while on vacation in order to prevent President Trump from making recess appointments. According to the Washington Examiner, “In a pro-forma session, a senator quickly gavels the chamber in and out of session. It requires a senator to be present in Washington during the recess period…” In short, Republicans along with Democrats are blocking Trump from making any appointments while they are on vacation. If Republicans would allow the president to make recess appointments, he could temporarily fill dozens or more vacant positions within the federal government.
I’ve learned not to expect much from politicians in Washington. This shouldn’t be the case though. The American people should be able to trust those who represent us in Washington and we should have high expectations. Establishment Republicans desperately want their constituents to think they are working hard on the agenda they ran on. The fact is, the swamp refuses to be drained.