GOP considers cancelling August recess to salvage agenda – The Hill

 In U.S.
Alarmed by the stalemate on healthcare reform, lack of progress on tax reform and appropriations bills that are far behind schedule, Republican lawmakers across Congress are increasingly willing to consider canceling the month-long August recess.

Senate Republican negotiators reported that they are not close to a deal on healthcare reform and that scheduling a vote by July 4, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellJuan Williams: GOP fumbles on healthcare This week: Senate plots path on healthcare GOP considers canceling August recess to salvage agenda MORE (R-Ky.) has pushed, is likely unrealistic.

That impasse has held up work on a budget resolution, which is necessary to move tax reform and the annual appropriations bills.

Once Republicans vote on a budget resolution for 2018, it will wipe out the special vehicle they plan to use to pass healthcare reform with a simple majority vote — a vehicle that was set up by the budget resolution for 2017.

Lawmakers calculate there are only 45 legislative days until the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

With the party still sharply divided on health and tax reform, it looks increasingly possible that Republican lawmakers will leave town in July for a month-long break without any major accomplishments under their belts.

“I think there’s a majority that probably supports being here,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), referring to the possibility of cancelling or cutting short the August recess.He said GOP lawmakers need to make progress on the budget and spending bills to avoid a government shutdown scenario in September, as well as progressing on tax reform.

“I don’t want to wait until the last week to be forced into a [continuing resolution]. That’s ridiculous,” he said of the likelihood Congress will have to pass a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

Perdue said colleagues are also “facing the reality if we don’t we get some kind of tax package on the books this year” the country could find itself in a recession.

He said CEOs are feeling better “that government is going to get off their backs” and the “economy wants to turn” but is relying on a reform of the tax code in the next six to seven months.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) has pushed Senate Republican leaders for the past two weeks to cancel the August recess.

“I think absolutely we should truncate or cancel recess. We have a huge agenda. I think we can get a lot of it done but what we don’t have is time,” said Sullivan. “We can make more time.”

The idea is gaining steam with colleagues elected to the Senate more recently.

“Congress has no business taking a recess when the people’s business remains unfinished,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

A Senate GOP aide expressed doubt, however, that Perdue, Sullivan and Daines will get very far in convincing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to cancel the recess.

“Are they going to get all 52 Senate Republicans to do this?” the aide asked. “Perdue and Sullivan talking is fine but every time members say they need to stay and work over a recess there’s usually a [congressional delegation] trip somewhere” that their colleagues have planned.

Perdue acknowledged there are probably a solid 15 Republican colleagues who would be strongly opposed to cancelling the August recess.

But a sense of growing panic about the dwindling legislative calendar is starting to take hold in the Republican conferences in both the Senate and House.

Senior administration officials are warming up to the idea of keeping Congress in town longer this summer.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that he supports Congress staying in session through at least part of August.

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