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US Politics

Republican Senate leader cancels August recess, limiting Democrats’ campaigning ahead of midterm elections

There are 26 Democratic-held seats on the ballot this fall, compared to just nine for Republicans, so cancelling the recess will hurt them the most

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 5:44am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 5:45am

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled most of the chamber’s August recess on Tuesday, bowing to calls from his fellow Republicans to stay in Washington to finish work on nominations and undercutting election campaigning by Democrats who have more than a half-dozen incumbents at risk in November.

“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 financial year, the August recess has been cancelled,” McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement.

“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.”

Instead of taking the entire month of August off, Senators will have a one-week break at the beginning of the month and then return to Washington.

That will take time away from the campaign trail for senators on the ballot in November, and the change will have a lopsided effect on Democrats. There are 26 Democratic-held seats on the ballot this fall, compared to just nine for Republicans.

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And while seven incumbent Democrats are seen as competitive by analysts including the non-partisan Cook Political Report, just one Republican is. That is Senator Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican.

“We’ll be here. It will be an enjoyable August,” said Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who is head of the Republican Senate campaign arm.

McConnell’s move to alter the four-week recess that was expected to begin on August 6 may also be a tactic to win a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on a plan to move a large bloc of pending nominees through in exchange for more time away from Washington.

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Last year, McConnell initially announced he would delay the Senate’s five-week summer recess by two weeks as lawmakers were debating how to revise health care legislation he proposed to replace Obamacare.

Later, after the health care measure was defeated on the Senate floor, that was revised so that the recess was reduced by just one week.