The delay on passing a health care bill is one reason Republican lawmakers from both houses of Congress are asking to stay at work this summer. In less than 15 legislative days, lawmakers are scheduled to leave town for the entire month of August.
In their home districts, they will likely face angry constituents frustrated Congress has so far not passed any major pieces of legislation, especially health care.
The congressional August recess goes back to a time before air conditioning when spending time in Washington during the summer was painful. But some lawmakers are starting worry about the heat they’ll get when they head home for August if they haven’t fulfilled some major promises, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.
The calls for a congressional scheduling change are getting louder. Georgia Sen. David Perdue is one of many Republicans pushing to do away with the annual five-week break.
“I can tell you what: if you did a vote out there in the real world, they would vote for us to stay here and get their work done,” Perdue told CBS News.
In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Perdue and nine colleagues point out there are only 31 working days until the end of the fiscal year – and lots of work to do, including passing a health care bill, tax reform, funding the government and handling the debt limit.
“The gridlock is not understood by people back home, nor is it going to be tolerated,” Perdue said.
Perdue is not the only Republican speaking out.
“We should be locked on the House floor until we get some things done,” Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher said.
“I’m ready to work through August,” Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said.
“We cannot be taking a vacation or a break in August if we haven’t done the people’s work,” Alabama Sen. Luther Strange said on Fox News.
Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins has served in Congress for more than two decades.
“Why does Congress go home so often and for such a long period of time?” Cordes asked her.
“We learn so much when we do go home. It gives us the chance to spend extended periods of time with our constituents,” Collins responded.
Congress is actually on track to spend more days in session this year than the 20-year average, as Republican leaders try to make the most of their control of Congress and the White House.
“Look, if time were the only consideration, absolutely staying through August would make sense,” congressional scholar Norm Ornstein said. But he said so far, Republicans don’t have much to show for the extra workdays.
“They don’t have a consensus of the votes and they refuse to try and broaden that base to find consensus by bringing in Democrats,” Ornstein said.
Any changes to the congressional calendar would need approval by leadership of both sides, and Democrats aren’t eager to give Republicans more time to try to enact their agenda.
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Republican lawmakers’ calls for doing away with August recess grow louder