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Senate Recess

The Senate's delayed recess means voters have fewer chances to talk to their representatives

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced this week that the Senate is delaying its annual August recess by two weeks after Republicans have struggled with accomplishing any of their major agenda goals.

McConnell told reporters the delay was a result of Democrats obstructing confirmations for President Trump's Cabinet nominees.

"We are getting zero cooperation on the personnel part of the Senate portfolio, which is confirming nominations," he said.

"Therefore, we will be in session the first two weeks of August, that we had originally anticipated not being here, we will be here," McConnell added.

The delay was bad news for journalists, staffers and other politicos who had planned summer vacations around the congressional break.

But Republicans in both the House and the Senate have acknowledged that now is not the time for them to leave Washington, D.C. when they've barely made a dent in their ambitious agenda.

"If you were going to school and getting failing grades in your spring semester, you better stay in school for the summer and go to summer school - not take a recess," Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) told reporters Monday.

With the full five-week recess, Republicans would have had less than 30 working days to pass a healthcare bill, raise the debt ceiling, pass a defense spending bill, and pass a federal budget by the fiscal deadline.

But although the break is commonly called a recess, it's not supposed to be a vacation for lawmakers. It's actually an at-home working period, a time for lawmakers to meet with their constituents and get feedback on issues they care about.

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Some senators say shortening the break may hurt their chances to connect with the people back home who elect them.

"I had planned town meetings, issue forums, all across the state of Massachusetts," Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said. "And now all of that is going to be in suspended animation."

But Republicans argue delaying the recess will do even more to help voters back home than holding constituent events.

"This isn't about being here for the sake of being here, it's about being here for the sake of getting something accomplished," said Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

"My constituents, I imagine, all these folks are tired of excuses," added Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which voted in favor of delaying recess for the House as well (The House is still taking the full five-weeks). "Where I come from, people say talk is cheap."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), who has promised to visit all 62 districts in his home state of New York, has another theory on why Republicans are putting off recess.

“Every recess we’ve had the constituents have raised their voices against the bill, same thing this time. I think that’s why our Republican colleagues don’t want to go home," he said.

Now the pressure is on Senate Republicans to have something to show for their recess delay.

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