Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Leader McConnell limits August recess

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cancelled all but the first week of the chamber’s four-week August recess today, forcing senators to stay in Washington instead of heading home for a break or, in the case of incumbents seeking reelection, campaigning ahead of midterms in November.

"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" said Sen. McConnell.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is arguing the Senate ought to pursue a different plan for the unscheduled work period, however, and tackle the rising costs of health care.

"After 18 months of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deliberately sabotaging our health care system, Republican policies have resulted in major premium increases for millions of Americans," said Sen. Schumer in an open letter to Sen. McConnell. “I urge you to dedicate the new three-week August work period to considering legislation that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.”

Whether or not Sen. McConnell chooses to take up health care as requested, or go ahead with nominations and appropriations is still to be seen. The move to cancel recess may prove especially damaging to Democratic incumbents who are protecting 23 seats, as compared to eight by Republicans, and two by independents who caucus with Dems. Five Democratically-held seats are labeled as Toss-Ups by Cook Political Report, as opposed to only three held by Republicans. Without the typical opportunity to campaign during recess, it may prove difficult for Democrats to hold these seats let alone win enough to gain back control of the chamber.

While, there is no word on whether the House plans to follow suit, it is highly unlikely given the political landscape in the House, which currently favors Democrats over a number of vulnerable Republicans around the country.

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