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Politics Why Trump and Congress are talking about scrapping August recess

01:50  16 may  2018
01:50  16 may  2018 Source:   cnn.com

Conservatives, White House pressure McConnell for longer Senate work hours

  Conservatives, White House pressure McConnell for longer Senate work hours Conservatives are upping pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to either keep the Senate in session longer during the week or delay the August recess in order to catch up on funding the government and President Trump's nominees.GOP Sen. David Perdue (Ga.), White House legislative affairs director Marc Short and conservative outside groups joined forces on Tuesday to urge the Senate GOP leader to ramp up the chamber's workGOP Sen. David Perdue (Ga.), White House legislative affairs director Marc Short and conservative outside groups joined forces on Tuesday to urge the Senate GOP leader to ramp up the chamber's work schedule.

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME." McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME." McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess

LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shake hands after Shumer delivered a speech and answered questions at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center February 12, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sen. Schumer spoke at the event as part of the Center's Distinguished Speaker Series, and Sen. McConnell introduced him. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images) © Bill Pugliano/Getty Images LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 12: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shake hands after Shumer delivered a speech and answered questions at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center February 12, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sen. Schumer spoke at the event as part of the Center's Distinguished Speaker Series, and Sen. McConnell introduced him. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Senate Republican leaders are facing mounting pressure from President Donald Trump and a vocal group of rank-and-file senators to pass a series of spending bills ahead of their summer break and avoid a year-end messy fight to keep the government open, like the ones that have plagued Congress in the past.

GOP senators to McConnell: Cancel the August recess

  GOP senators to McConnell: Cancel the August recess A group of Republican senators are urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to cancel the August recess in order to catch up funding the government. "We stand ready to work Mondays and Fridays, nights as well as weekends, to ensure the funding process is not used to jam the president with a bad spending deal," more than a dozen GOP lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.Spokespeople for GOP Sen. David Perdue (Ga.), who is organizing the letter, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME." McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME." McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME."

"I agree with him," said Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. "I'm embarrassed that we don't follow the law."

Kennedy was one of 16 Republican senators who signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging the Kentucky Republican to cancel the summer recess so they can get more work done.

"We stand ready to work Mondays and Fridays, nights as well as weekends, to ensure the funding process is not used to jam the President with a bad spending deal," the senators said.

McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess, something he did a year ago to help confirm a backlog of nominations and other legislative business.

GOP rep: Trump wouldn’t last very long under torture

  GOP rep: Trump wouldn’t last very long under torture Rep. Duncan Hunter made the statement while appearing on Bill Maher's show "Real Time.""Not very long," Hunter said when asked by HBO's Bill Maher on his show "Real Time.

Trump tweeted over the weekend that he wants Congress to pass its annual spending legislation before the typical August recess -- or, as he wrote, "NOT GO HOME." McConnell, according to one person briefed on the matter, is seriously considering scrapping some or all of the August recess

The Senate, which canceled its August recess to work on spending bills and nominations, has passed nine of its 12 appropriations bills, while the House, which took the month off, has passed just six. Why Trump and Congress are talking about scrapping lawmakers' August break.

Politically, this person notes, such a move could help the GOP since there are many more Democratic incumbents in tough races up for re-election, and this would effectively keep them in Washington ahead of the midterms.

What's the rush?

Congress is up against an October 1 deadline, the start of the next fiscal year, to pass 12 appropriations bills, each funding vital parts of government, such as defense, homeland security and agriculture.

Congress faces this deadline every year but routinely misses it, relying on shorter term spending bills, known as continuing resolutions, to sustain Washington instead. Last year, Congress blew past the fall deadline and used five continuing resolutions to get by until it approved a massive, $1.3 trillion spending bill all at once in March -- more than 150 days after the deadline.

RELATED: Trump threatens to veto $1.3 trillion spending bill over immigration

Trump says wants a government funding deal before August break

  Trump says wants a government funding deal before August break President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Congress must have a deal to fund the federal government before the summer break in August or lawmakers would have to stay in Washington. In a tweet, Trump also said the funding bill should include money to build a wall on the border with Mexico."The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME," he tweeted. "Wall and Border Security should be included."A $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Trump signed in March, will keep the government funded through the end of September.

Why ? Say hello to August recess . That appointee wouldn't need to be approved until the end of the next session of Congress . Trump hasn't commented on recess appointments yet, but some sources say the President is being urged to use a recess appointment to replace Attorney General Jeff

President Trump challenged Congress on Saturday to get a funding deal done before they recess in August or “not go home." Sunday Talk Shows. More. Policy.

That pattern has become par for the course on Capitol Hill. According to the Pew Research Center, Congress hasn't passed all 12 spending bills on time since 1997.

And Trump isn't happy about that. When Congress passed that massive spending bill late in March -- all in a big package known as an omnibus -- Trump said he would never sign another bill like that.

"To prevent the omnibus situation from ever happening again, I'm calling on Congress to give me a line item veto for all government spending bills and the Senate must end -- they must end -- the filibuster rule and get down to work," he said in March.

He's referring to complicated Senate procedures that gum up and delay the process. The House typically churns out its appropriations bills at a reasonable rate -- since those bills require only a majority vote in the House -- but the Senate requires a stricter threshold of 60 votes out of 100, meaning they must have some bipartisan approval.

How are they trying to make it work this time?

Leaders in both parties say they truly want to return to a time of consistently passing carefully crafted and vetted spending bills that reflect updated needs and priorities for the government. A group of bipartisan Senate leaders recently reached a handshake agreement to try to move the 12 annual appropriations bills efficiently.

GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress

  GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Senate Republicans want President Trump to stop taking jabs at Congress over its inability to get things done. Trump loves to tout results and bash lawmakers when they do not move fast enough on his priorities.

Pushback from Congress But to see why some political scientists would call Trump ineffective, look at what’s happening in Congress this week. Majority leader Mitch McConnell has outlined legislative plans leading up to the August recess , and health care isn’t in them.

The Trump agenda has barely moved, despite the GOP enjoying a majority in both chambers of Congress and a Republican in the White House. Republican leaders do see some hope on the horizon in the form of tax reform after the Senate's August recess .

"I'm somewhat optimistic based on the conversations I've had with the Democratic leader," McConnell told reporters Tuesday. "that we're going to have a higher level of cooperation than we've had, and we'll see how that works out."

The Senate minority leader, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, agreed, saying he didn't think senators would need to work through August to pass the bills.

"I think we're going to have plenty of time to get done what we need to be done if everyone cooperates," he said a few minutes after McConnell spoke.

But taking the practical steps to make that happen could be harder than it seems, even with a newfound spirit of cooperation. Any single senator -- from either party -- unhappy about anything can cause long and unexpected floor delays. If McConnell, for instance, scrapped the August break, it could inflame tensions and hamper cooperation on appropriations.

And with just 14 legislative weeks before the end of the fiscal year, aides in each party acknowledge it may not be possible to pass all 12 bills. Trump's request for a border wall is one potential roadblock for the bill to fund homeland security, for example. Democrats strongly oppose building a wall, and talks could collapse if Trump insists on wall funding.

Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said he thinks they can get four or five bills done by the deadline.

"It's tough but doable," he told CNN.

Georgia's Republican Sen. David Perdue, who spearheaded the letter to McConnell urging him to work longer weeks and cancel the August recess if necessary, suggested McConnell consolidate the 12 bills into a few smaller packages to help expedite passage.

In addition, McConnell has made confirming Trump's slate of conservative judges a top priority -- a decision that has dominated floor action for months. McConnell would have to set aside precious floor time from that effort to take up spending bills for federal agencies.

Also on the docket in the Senate -- and likely to take more floor time -- is a vote on legislation to cancel unspent funds from the prior year, also known as a rescission package.

CNN's Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.

Senate passes long-stalled bill to address sexual harassment on Capitol Hill .
Long stalled legislation to address how Congress handles sexual harassment passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Thursday. The bill now goes back to the House where the expectation is that there will be a conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills after Congress returns from its weeklong Memorial Day recess. The House passed its version in February.The legislation moved forward following a deal reached by Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and was praised by leaders of both parties in the Senate.

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