Do you remember staying late for work because you didn’t get a project done on time? Or perhaps you still can remember those days as a college student when you had to pass on a good night’s rest in favor of finishing your report or research paper. But apparently for Congress, their August recess will happen regardless of if they actually get their jobs done or not, unless Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ5) and his colleagues have their way.
Despite just having a brief recess for July 4th, Congress will soon get another almost-month long recess in August. On the US Senate website, it says the August recess is often a time for Senators and Congressmen to go home to their families, meet with their constituents, and even “catch up on summer reading.” But we all know the “work first and then play” mantra so what makes Congress think they can take a break when they still haven’t fulfilled one of their basic campaign promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act?
Luckily, GOP Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District penned a letter to the Republican House leadership on this very issue. In the letter, he and eleven other conservative members of Congress asked Speaker Paul Ryan to keep Congress open and suspend or at least shorten its August recess. Their reason? They pointed out many of the policy priorities that the Republican-led House has yet to make major progress on and also noted that the September 30th deadline was coming for Congress to pass the federal budget. They concluded the letter with a baseball analogy, noting that while Speaker Ryan had remarked they already won “singles” and “doubles” in Congress, shortening their August recess would allow Congress to score some “touchdowns” like finally putting an Obamacare repeal on Trump’s desk and getting a federal budget passed without needing to make the American people suffer yet another government shutdown.
But the House Freedom Caucus and its members aren’t the only ones saying a shorter recess is a good idea. Ten senators penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, noting that Congress only has 33 potential working days left. Even President Trump himself tweeted, “I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new healthcare bill fully approved and ready to go.” And a Lou Dobbs Fox poll showed that an overwhelming 96% of the respondents believe Congress should skip their recess.
I too absolutely believe that Congress should skip its August recess. Yes, the importance of taking a vacation should never be underestimated, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. For the first time in eight years, Republicans have control of BOTH houses of Congress and the White House. But so far, most of their policy objectives haven’t been successfully implemented and their Obamacare “Repeal and Replace” proposal is still stalled in the Senate. Not to mention, Congress still has to approve a budget by September 30, otherwise Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution if they don’t want to see the government shut down.
I have no doubt these negotiations will be difficult as the Republicans can’t expect any help from obstructionist Democrats and their own party is split down the middle by different groups ranging from moderate to more conservative. But if they get their heads in the game, I am sure they can find a solution. Plus, if those are not enough reasons, imagine what kind of hell is waiting for them back in their districts and states. Utilizing communist era tactics, multiple left-wing opposition groups have been busing in their supporters from miles around to overwhelm congressional townhalls and are viciously protesting GOP members of Congress in every way possible. Shortening the August recess not only will give Congress more time to get something done, but also will mean they do not have to worry about facing these progressive protesters for an entire month.
The choice is pretty simple and I am hopeful both Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will agree. But if they do not, the Constitution does allow for the President to convene Congress on “extraordinary occasions” and Trump may not be exactly opposed to going that far if Congress will continue to avoid the pressing issues at hand.
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