Senate Delays August Recess Amid Unfinished Health-Care Plan

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  • Lawmakers gain time to consider Trump administration nominees
  • Congress is behind on deadline to raise U.S. debt limit

Senate GOP Leaders Cancel First 2 Weeks of August Recess

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s delaying the Senate’s August recess by two weeks after divided lawmakers have been unable to agree on how to revise health-care legislation he proposed to replace Obamacare.

McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement Tuesday that the five-week break will be shortened “to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle.”

McConnell’s move provides breathing room to finish a health-care overhaul and start on a backlog of other must-do business, including a defense policy bill. Lawmakers are also months behind schedule on the budget, face a deadline to raise the debt limit and must pass an appropriations bill by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

President Donald Trump has called on lawmakers to complete health-care legislation before going on recess.

If there were an imminent vote in the Senate, House Republican leadership would keep their chamber in session into the beginning of August, according to a GOP aide familiar with the plans. If the Senate works further into August and passes a health-care bill, there would be intense pressure from the Trump administration to bring House members back to Washington for a vote, according to the aide.

Conservative Republicans in the Senate, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina and David Perdue of Georgia, held a news conference before McConnell’s announcement to call on Republican leadership to keep the chamber open during the August recess to complete health-care legislation.

“We’re prepared to work through August,” Tillis said. He said that could allow lawmakers to work on health care and start turning to tax reform, adding, “this is pivotal to making sure we have time to do it.”

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska expressed frustration, though, saying she needs the time at home to meet with constituents and learn their priorities.

"It’s not a vacation," she said. "I would have been totally fine staying here and working and voting Mondays and Fridays" instead of cutting into the August period in her home state.

— With assistance by John Fitzpatrick

(Updates with Murkowski comments in last two paragraphs.)
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