Employees that work in and around Congress may have to reconsider their summer vacations, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced June 5, 2018, that the Senate would remain in session in August, foregoing the traditional summer recess.
McConnell blamed Senate Democrats for the need to remain in session longer than usual.
“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,” McConnell said in a statement on the decision.
According to data compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post, though it takes slightly longer for President Donald Trump’s nominations to receive confirmation by the Senate — 86 days compared to the 67-day average for the Obama administration — the percentage of total nominations yet to be confirmed by the Senate is not historically different than previous administrations.
By May 31, 2018, approximately 25 percent of all nominations Trump had sent to the Senate had yet to be confirmed. At the same point in the Obama administration, 26 percent of all nominations sent to the Senate had yet to be confirmed.
Rather, at this point in the Trump presidency, fewer nominations have been sent to the Senate than at the same point in the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations, likely accounting for the low number of confirmations.
According to Washington Post reports, this change also puts Democrats battling for reelection in close races in a difficult position: skip out on potentially important votes or miss out on campaign time.
This is not the first time McConnell has pointed to Senate Democrats as the reason for changes to the August recess. In 2017, McConnell delayed the August recess by three weeks, citing Democratic resistance on healthcare reform and presidential nominations as rationale.
According to McConnell’s statement, Senators will still have a work period in their home districts scheduled for the first week of August.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.