“Make Congress Work Again” is Working

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would stay in session during August, rather than taking their usual vacation.  This comes as a huge victory for leading voices in the Senate, conservative leaders and grassroots activists who supported the Make Congress Work Again initiative to cancel August recess.

In a statement, McConnell noted prioritizing the budget and confirming President Trump’s nominees:

“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.”

Congress’ 2.5 day workweek, multiple federal holidays, and a month of August recess makes it almost impossible to have the focused representative democracy that the running of a large country requires. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) writes, “…since 1974, Congress has only passed all of its appropriations bills four times. Four.” She refers to the twelve appropriations bills which fund various aspects of the government from agriculture, the military, homeland security, education and more. If these bills do not get passed, then the government “shuts down” until Congress passes a funding bill to start it up again.

When Congress doesn’t “have time” to pass all 12 bills, they throw together a combination bill such as the 1.3 trillion “omnibus” monstrosity passed earlier this year. Yet without time to read, review or debate its contents, such actions dilute the privilege of our democratic process, which should allow for an honest examination and evaluation of the bills before a vote. Such an evaluation takes time, but who has time to debate when you’re on summer vacation?

Last year, Senator David Perdue (R-GA), attempted to change that by spearheading an effort to work through August recess. As a result, the Senate confirmed 77 of President Trump’s nominees in just four days.  This year, Perdue initiated a similar initiative, Make Congress Work Again. Perdue and a coalition of 15 other senators addressed a letter to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell stating,

“We stand ready to work Mondays and Fridays, nights as well as weekends, to ensure the funding process is not used to jam the President with another bad spending deal. We, and the American people, expect Congress to work tirelessly to restore American greatness. The President has outlined an agenda that will unleash economic growth, strengthen our military, and rebuild our infrastructure. We play a critical role in advancing this agenda, so together let’s make Congress work again.”

With the stated goal to speed up the confirmation process and to fund the government, these senators stood ready and willing to work long, hard and without vacation in order to avoid another omnibus and to further economic and military policy goals. Additionally, in late May, Sen. Perdue, along with colleagues Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, and Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, introduced the No Budget, No Vacation Act which states that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget, members will not be allowed a vacation. Sen. Ernst states,

“Congress must employ the same work ethic valued by our military and hard-working Americans across the country: you don’t quit until the job is done.”

Conservative leaders also united in this effort. A memo issued by the Conservative Action Project and signed by a coalition of over 100 conservatives urged Congress to delay August recess until the House and Senate have been able to openly debate government funding legislation and until the Senate has made “sufficient progress on confirming the president’s nominees.”

Due to historic obstructionism, in which Senate Democrats have slowed the nomination process through endless debates and filibusters, more than 250 nominees stand waiting to be confirmed. According to an op-ed by David Perdue and Jenny Beth Martin, which appeared in the Washington Examiner, each nominee has taken an average of 82 days to be confirmed. This unacceptable pace has resulted in an understaffed Trump administration unable to fully achieve its policy goals.

While Congress has served the country well by lowering taxes, repealing regulations, creating a stronger military, confirming great judges and repealing the individual mandate, more work remains to be accomplished. Because sixteen senators, supported by conservative leaders and grassroots supporters, stood willing to work hard for the American people, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has cancelled the Senate’s August recess and is helping to #MakeCongressWorkAgain!

 

Show Your Support: Sign the Make Congress Work Again letter

Originally published on Patriot Post,  June 7, 2018

Image Credit: Kamira/Bigstock

 

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