WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday canceled the Senate’s monthlong August recess, a move he said he made to work on legislation, but which also cuts into campaign time for 10 vulnerable Democrats up for re-election.
McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to cancel the recess, at President Donald Trump’s urging, to confirm more of the president’s nominees, whose approvals have been stalled by Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“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.
“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,” McConnell said.
Schumer said Democrats will use the extra time in Washington to try to force the Republican majority to address the increase in health insurance premiums — a hike in costs that Schumer blamed on Republicans’ moves to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s a wonderful, great opportunity Leader McConnell has given us to go after high costs and help average American folks,” Schumer said.
The Senate has approved 330 of Trump’s key appointments, while 135 nominations are still pending, among 666 key positions requiring Senate approval, according to a joint project of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit, and The Washington Post.
Trump has yet to nominate anyone for about 200 of those 600 posts.
Trump’s nominees have taken, on average, 86 days to win confirmation, compared with 67 days for President Barack Obama, 44 days for President George W. Bush, 54 days for President Bill Clinton and 55 days for President George H.W. Bush.
But both parties also see a political edge to the recess cancellation.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters earlier Tuesday that canceling August recess puts Democrats in states that supported Trump in a pinch.
“I think now they’re desperate because now they realize they’re more exposed politically because they’ve got so many people up running for re-election in red states,” Cornyn said.