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Caroline C. Lewis / June 7, 2018

‘Make Congress Work Again’ Is Working

With a lot still on the docket, McConnell canceled recess. But keep the pressure on Congress.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would stay in session during August, rather than taking their usual vacation. This comes as a huge victory for leading voices in the Senate, conservative leaders and grassroots activists who supported the Make Congress Work Again initiative to cancel August recess.

In a statement, McConnell noted prioritizing the budget and confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees:

Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the President’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled. … Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the President’s nominees.

Last year, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) spearheaded an effort to work through August recess. As a result, the Senate confirmed 77 of Trump’s nominees in just four days. This year, Perdue initiated a similar initiative and a coalition of 16 senators addressed a letter to the Senate majority leader stating:

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 another bad spending deal. We, and the American people, expect Congress to work tirelessly to restore American greatness. The President has outlined an agenda that will unleash economic growth, strengthen our military, and rebuild our infrastructure. We play a critical role in advancing this agenda, so together let’s make Congress work again.

With the stated goal to speed up the confirmation process and to fund the government, these senators stood ready and willing to work long, hard and without vacation in order to avoid another omnibus disaster while furthering economic and military policy goals. Additionally, in late May, Sen. Perdue, along with colleagues Joni Ernst (Iowa), James Lankford (Oklahoma) and John Barrasso (Wyoming), introduced the No Budget, No Vacation Act, which states that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget, members will not be allowed a vacation. Sen. Ernst states, “Congress must employ the same work ethic valued by our military and hard-working Americans across the country: you don’t quit until the job is done.”

Conservative leaders also united in this effort. A memo issued by the Conservative Action Project and signed by a coalition of over 100 conservatives urged Congress to delay August recess until the House and Senate have been able to openly debate government funding legislation and until the Senate has made “sufficient progress on confirming the president’s nominees.”

Due to historic obstructionism, in which Senate Democrats have slowed the nomination process through endless debates and filibusters, more than 250 nominees stand waiting to be confirmed. According to an op-ed by David Perdue and Jenny Beth Martin, which appeared in the Washington Examiner, each nominee has taken an average of 82 days to be confirmed. This unacceptable pace has resulted in an understaffed Trump administration unable to fully achieve its policy goals.

While Congress has served the country well by lowering taxes, repealing regulations, creating a stronger military, confirming great judges and repealing the individual mandate, more work remains to be accomplished. Because 16 senators, supported by conservative leaders and grassroots supporters, stood willing to work hard for the American people, McConnell has canceled the Senate’s August recess and is helping to #MakeCongressWorkAgain. Let’s hope the U.S. House follows suit.

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