The August recess for the U.S. Senate has been canceled as leaders push senators to work overtime on budget bills.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced the cancellation on Tuesday, June 5. Senators have traditionally taken August to meet with constituents in their states before heading back to Washington, D.C., for the fall.
In his announcement, McConnell laid the blame for the cancellation at the feet of Senate Democrats, who he said have been slow-walking President Donald Trump’s nominations to cabinet and judicial positions.
“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.”
Asked if his shortening of the recess was aimed at pressuring Democrats to halt delaying tactics against Trump’s nominees, McConnell showed no willingness of reviving the break if the pace of nominations quickens.
“I hope we’ll get greater cooperation, but everybody should anticipate that we will be here,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, was one of the leading voices in favor of canceling the recess this year. Perdue has pushed the Senate to get back into the regular process of adopting annual budgets — something that hasn’t been done by Congress in years. Instead, the federal government has operated on a series of continuing resolutions that have kept the lights on — most of the time.
“President Trump was clear when he said he will not sign another last-minute omnibus spending bill again,” Perdue said in a Tuesday announcement. “We should not go home until we have completed our work. It is important to remember that simply canceling the August state work period is not the goal. We should be working nights and weekends now to get the results the American people sent us here to deliver.”
Political observers have also pointed out that canceling the August recess will force Democratic senators up for re-election this year to stay in the capital instead of campaigning in their home states.
Democrats have 26 incumbents facing re-election this year compared to the Republicans’ nine. Ten of those Democrats are from states Trump won in 2016.
With sour national approval ratings for Trump, Democrats have hoped that they have a slim chance of retaking the Senate this year. (Read more about Donald Trump’s approval ratings in Georgia.)
Perdue requested McConnell cancel the August recess in a May letter signed by 15 other senators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.