Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he would delay the start of the Senate’s typically monthlong August recess by two weeks to try to finish work on the GOP healthcare bill and other legislative items.
McConnell pinned part of the blame on Democrats’ obstruction, a talking point the White House and Republican lawmakers have amplified in recent weeks.
“In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the August recess until the third week of August,” McConnell said in a statement.
The Senate healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, has stalled as members from the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP are unable to come to an agreement on key elements.
Several Republican senators had called for the delay of the August recess to finish work on the BCRA and other items like raising the debt ceiling and funding the government. A group of 10 GOP lawmakers led by Sen. David Perdue of Georgia wrote a letter on June 30 asking for a delay.
The group applauded the choice in a statement from Perdue’s office on Tuesday.
“We are glad leadership took our concerns into consideration,” it said. “It is time to get results for the American people.”
The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has pushed for the House to delay its recess also, echoed that sentiment in a statement after the announcement.
“We applaud Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to keep the Senate in session in August to accomplish the important work of the American people,” it said. “We call on House leadership to do the same. There are too many unresolved issues before Congress including tax reform, health care, the debt ceiling, government funding, and more to leave Washington before the people’s work is done.”
While talking to reporters after the announcement, McConnell said a revised version of the BCRA would be released Thursday and that a vote would come next week. The majority leader also said the debt ceiling could be addressed in the first two weeks of August. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the debt ceiling will be breached sometime in mid-October.
Here’s the full statement from McConnell:
“Once the Senate completes its work on health care reform, we will turn to other important issues including the National Defense Authorization Act and the backlog of critical nominations that have been mindlessly stalled by Democrats.
“In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the August recess until the third week of August.”