Sixteen Republican senators, led by Sen. David Perdue (Ga.), are giving their GOP leaders more leverage to cancel the August recess and force senators to work weekends if a long list of presidential nominations remain stalled and spending bills unpassed by the end of July.
The senators signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) urging him to confront Democrats’ historic delaying tactics, starting by keeping the Senate in session on Mondays, Fridays, and through weekends.
“We offered our support for anything that leadership felt we needed to do to accomplish two goals: To speed up the nominations process and keep the government funded by the end of the year,” Perdue told reporters Tuesday.
The tactic, they argue, will make Democrats rethink their use of the Senate rules to obstruct Trump nominees and spending bills because so many more Democrats than Republicans are up for re-election this cycle and facing difficult contests. Vulnerable senators use the long weekends to fundraise and go back to their states to campaign.
“This is the only [job] that you can neglect some of your most basic duties and then take a month-long vacation,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, (R., Iowa). “We should be working nights, weekends, and August, and any other state work period to pass appropriations bills and get our work done in a timely manner.”
The group of mostly recently elected Republican senators want to stop Democrats from using parliamentary delaying tactics on President Trump’s nominees, most of whom they end up supporting anyway. They also aim to speed up the Senate’s appropriations process so the must-pass spending bills to keep the government running don’t snowball into a massive omnibus the president is forced to sign at the end of the year.
In late March Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill but bemoaned the process and told Congress never to send him such a massive budget measure that circumvented the regular legislative process again.
Over the weekend, Trump started rallying his political base on Twitter to back the idea of the Senate getting its work done or canceling the August recess.
“The Senate should get funding done before the August break or NOT GO HOME,” he tweeted Saturday. “Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!”
There are roughly 270 Trump nominees still waiting for Senate confirmation because of historic Democratic obstruction. In 16 months in office, Democratic senators have led 89 filibuster votes on nominees compared to just 32 Senate filibusters of presidential nominees over the course of the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton administrations combined.
“At the rate we are going, it would take a decade for this administration to be fully staffed,” Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) told reporters.
Perdue and several other GOP senators sent McConnell a similar letter last year committing to spending the August recess in Washington to make more progress on nominees. With the added leverage, McConnell canceled one week of the recess, and the Senate was able to push 77 confirmations through in one day before senators left Washington.
Besides Perdue, Ernst, and Lee, the other senators who signed the latest letter to McConnell include: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.