Republicans Mull Giving Up Recess to Work on Healthcare, Tax Reform, Budget

June 19, 2017 Updated: October 5, 2018

Republicans in Congress are considering cancelling or truncating their recess during the month of August to catch up on a delayed agenda, including healthcare reform, tax reform, and budget appropriations.

More than half the GOP Senators are willing to at least shorten their leave, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) told The Hill. The House Freedom Caucus on June 6 called on their colleagues to give up the recess altogether.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would like to see a vote on the healthcare reform before July 4, but the lawmakers are still hashing out their differences regarding the bill, which means McConnell likely doesn’t have the necessary 51 votes.

Republicans plan to pass both the healthcare and tax reform bills through the budgeting process, meaning they need to reach an agreement before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. They also need to iron out the rest of the budget appropriations by that time, or risk a government shutdown.

That leaves the Senate only 41 days in session, and the House a mere 34 days.

“I think absolutely we should truncate or cancel recess. We have a huge agenda. I think we can get a lot of it done, but what we don’t have is time,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told The Hill. “We can make more time.”

The legislators can postpone the September deadline by passing a resolution that would temporarily fund the government. But that’s not an ideal option.

The best option for GOP would be to reach a consensus on healthcare and taxes by the end of July. If they won’t manage that, skipping the recess could also save them the embarrassment of returning to their constituencies without crossing a single major promised bill off their agenda—repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), cutting and simplifying taxes and closing tax loopholes, and investing in infrastructure.

But it would need to be the House and Senate leaders to make the call on cancelling or shortening the recess, and neither McConnell, nor House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have shown sympathy for the idea.

Neither responded to a request for a comment on the matter.

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