Canceling recess was a common punishment for bad behavior when I was in elementary school. I’m happy to report that Majority Leader McConnell says he’ll punish the bad behavior of Democrats by canceling most of the Senate’s August recess. Here is McConnell’s statement:
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.
McConnell’s office added, “It is expected that Senators will have a state work period during the first full week in August before returning for the rest of the month.”
Canceling the recess will keep vulnerable Senate Democrats in Washington when they want to be on the campaign trail. If the Democrats want to avoid this, they should agree to stop obstructing nominees in exchange for getting at least part of their recess back. As Politico says, “If the two leaders and their caucuses can cooperate on spending bills, nominees and other legislation like the annual defense authorization bill and a water infrastructure bill, McConnell may be able to restore some of the recess.”
I’m hoping that with the extra time, the Senate will get to vote not only on judicial nominees, but also on nominees for key Justice Department positions. I doubt it will be possible to get it all done in August, but working in August should enable the Senate to get it all done in the months immediately following.
The wild card is the Supreme Court. If a Justice retires at the end of this term, Trump will nominate a replacement for the Senate to consider. Once that nominee clears the Judiciary Committee, a full floor debate will follow. That debate will hold up nominees who haven’t yet been voted on.
The possibility of a Supreme Court nomination makes it all the more vital that the Senate work in August. But because of the Democrats’ success in obstructing so many nominees, the Senate needs to work in August regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court, absent an agreement to vote on all pending major nominees, including non-judicial ones.