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'It Doesn't Make Sense to Take Month Off': Senate Cancels Part of Recess

07-12-2017
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WASHINGTON -- The Senate has decided to work through two weeks of their August recess because they say they have too much to get done with not enough working days in Washington left before the fiscal year ends.

"At this time it just doesn't make any sense for us to just take the month of August off," says Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Republican leadership says a historic obstruction by the Democrats to confirm President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees is the main thing stalling their legislative work.

"The president has nominated 196 people; 23 percent of his nominees have been confirmed," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., argued, noting that "69 percent of President Barack Obama's nominees had been confirmed by the first August he was in office."

"Ten percent of President Trump's nominees have been allowed to have a voice vote; 90 percent of President Obama's nominees were confirmed by voice vote," he added.

Sen. Blunt calculates at this rate it would take over 11 years for the Senate to confirm all the nominees.

"That, of course, would not allow us to do anything else. It is unacceptable. It is outrageous. Something has to change," continued Blunt.

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says cancelling the recess is about Republicans trying to pass what they say is an unpopular health care bill.

"I have sympathy for the Republicans. If I were them I wouldn't want to go home and face the voters either because they're not getting a very good reaction when it comes to this bill," said Sen. Schumer.

McConnell hopes to bring a revised version of the health care bill to the floor for a vote next week if he can win over some of those opposed to it within the party.

Republican senators have a big agenda they want to accomplish this year beyond health care, but they're running out of time.

And one thing some, like Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., don't want to be distracted by: the drama following the White House over if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

 "We've got to come up with a health care outcome, we've got to come up with a tax plan, we've got to come up with a spending strategy and we've got to be disciplined and not get distracted by things that may be legitimate, but right now not in our lanes," said Tillis.  

But other GOP members say it's raising a lot of questions that need to be answered.

"On its face this is very problematic," warned Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "I know Donald Trump, Jr.'s new to politics. I know Jared Kushner's new to politics, but this is going to require a lot of questions to be asked and answered."

"I'm sure they met with a lot of people during the campaign. I'm sure the Clinton campaign met with foreign government about what their administration would look like, but we've been asking for months now what Russian contacts did you have, so it's frustrating to find something new and this email is very disturbing," Graham continued.
 
"But at the end of the day, we've got to find out what information was exchanged and why did they send these people to someone who knew nothing. I don't know," he said.

Senators on both sides of the aisle say they would like to hear Trump Jr. testify before a committee.

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