WASHINGTON – Members of the House Freedom Caucus are demanding GOP leaders cancel the annual August recess so they can tackle top-line policy issues, including the debt ceiling, repealing the Affordable Care Act, a tax overhaul and building a wall along the nation’s southern border.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told his GOP colleagues at a private meeting Wednesday that a House cancellation of the August recess is pointless unless the Senate manages to pass its Obamacare replace-and-repeal bill.
McCarthy warned, however, that he would call everyone back to Washington within 72 hours upon the Senate passage of the repeal bill so the House could send the measure to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
Pushing back against McCarthy’s claims, members of the House Freedom Caucus argued at a Wednesday press conference that Congress has too much on its plate to leave Washington for a month and should nix at least part of the August recess.
“We suggest that we delay any August recess that if we don’t have results, we shouldn’t have a recess,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus said. “It’s not just a delay for political purposes or for the optic. It’s a delay to get things done on behalf of the American people.”
The House is still slated to depart Washington for its month-long summer break beginning July 28, the time typically reserved for family vacations and official trips abroad for lawmakers, leaving just 31 more working days until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The goal of the Freedom Caucus in that limited time, Meadow explained, is to lift the debt ceiling, finish the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, and come to an agreement on principles in a budget blueprint that could start the process for a tax overhaul.
Meadows suggested a member might object if the House moves to adjourn as scheduled for the August recess.
“You have to take a vote in order to go home in August,” he said. “I can’t imagine members of Congress taking a vote and allowing unanimous consent to go on and just for everybody to go home. I would think at least one member of Congress would probably object to that.”
Meadows told reporters Tuesday he’s confident Congress will work through August.
“The American people believe we should be here,” he said. “And if we don’t have the political fortitude to make sure that we repeal and replace Obamacare, we’re certainly not going to go against the American people on that issue.”
The North Carolina Republican said an August session must include “decisive actions” because the American people “are tired of a Congress that’s all for show.”
“It’s time that we get things done.”
President Trump warned Monday that he does not expect Congress to leave for its summer recess without approving a “beautiful” new health-care bill.
“I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!” Trump tweeted.
I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
I’m with you, Mr. President–if we don’t have a healthcare reform proposal ready to go, Congress should cancel August recess until we do. https://t.co/ErGQIQckua
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) July 10, 2017
In agreement with Meadows, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, argued that taking recess instead of tackling policy agenda is irresponsible.
“This idea that we’re going to leave here and go home for five weeks makes absolutely no sense,” Jordan said.
The House has passed legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare, but the Senate is still working on its version.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he’ll cancel the first two weeks of a scheduled summer recess to provide more time to pass the health bill and “provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation” from Democrats.
While McConnell planned to unveil a revised bill repealing much of the 2010 statute Thursday, there are no signs that there’s enough GOP support for the bill to win passage.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in a conference call with reporters that he opposes the new measure because it doesn’t adequately uproot Obamacare.
“I don’t see anything in here really remotely resembling repeal,” Paul said.