U.S. Senator Steve Daines is among a group of just over a dozen of Republican colleagues asking their Majority leader to continue working through the traditional August recess. Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester said he also didn't have a problem staying in August.
Daines told reporters during a telephone press call he didn’t think it was right for Congress to take a break when the people’s business is unfinished. It’s a reference to several government spending bills and nominations that await action.
“Why take virtually a 5 week recess in August and into September? Let’s look for low hanging fruit,” he said. “We can keep the Senate open while still allowing members time on weekends to get back home and engage constituents on the ground.”
Roll Call – a publication about Congress, campaigns and elections – said the idea appears to be “gaining steam”, in part because it would hamper a large number of Democratic incumbents seeking re-election. The August is the traditional time when members campaign in advance of the general election.
“There’s far too much time spent in these chambers – House and Senate – fundraising activities, campaigning and not enough time focused on moving legislation through,” said Daines, adding the American people didn’t elect them to campaign.
Daines, a first term Senator, does not face re-election until 2020.
Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator is up for re-election this year. Democrat Jon Tester said in an interview with YPR he’s fine with working through August.
“That’s a winner for me,” he said, so long as work actually takes place.
“If we’re just going to keep people here for the sake of keeping ‘em here because it’s a good press release or makes people think we’re working that doesn’t get it done,” he said.
He said there numerous issues he wants addressed, including infrastructure funding, a Farm Bill and a V-A bill that works for veterans.
Tester said Congress already spends “weeks and weeks” in session but doesn’t get anything done.
He suggested the motivator for action might be to start at 6 a.m. and turn off the air conditioning in the U.S. Capitol during August when it’s already roiling hot and muggy.
“It would force people in Washington, D.C. that serve in the Senate and the House to work like Montanans,” he said. “Where you roll up your sleeves and if there’s a job to be done, you work until you get it done.”
President Donald Trump in a Saturday Tweet also said Congress should cancel its August recess and that the border wall should be included in a spending bill.
Congress has struggled to pass spending bills on time, though, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. The last time was in 19 97.
The letter sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was signed by these Republican U.S. Senators:
- Steve Daines (R-MT)
- David Perdue (R-GA)
- Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Joni Ernst (R-IA)
- Deb Fischer (R-NE)
- Dean Heller (R-NV)
- Ron Johnson (R-WI)
- John Kennedy (R-LA)
- James Lankford (R-OK)
- Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Mike Rounds (R-SD)
- Ben Sasse (R-NE)
- Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
- Thom Tillis (R-NC)
- Roger Wicker (R-MS)