WASHINGTON – Tax reform and the nation’s debt limit are getting growing attention as Republicans lawmakers joined White house budget director Mick Mulvaney in advocating a shorter August recess for Congress.
The Hill newspaper and other media outlets on Monday highlighted three Republican senators and members of the House Freedom Caucus who argued for cancellation or shortening of the five-week recess.
Last Thursday, Mulvaney joined those who favor a shortened recess, telling reporters the administration has not yet devised a strategy for increasing the debt limit.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also has urged congressional action on the debt limit before the August recess, though he’s given assurances the government can cope if Congress waits until after Labor Day.
The House Freedom Caucus wants Congress to “cancel the August recess,’’ according to a statement on its Facebook page posted on June 8. The group of about 30 conservative House lawmakers cited “tax reform, repealing Obamacare, addressing our debt ceiling, and funding our government’’ as too important “to delay or wait until the 11th hour to act on.’’
Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., told Fox News earlier this month that the stock and bond markets “always invest ahead and that’s what they are doing now.’’
That should put pressure on Congress, he said, to “stay in Washington and get this tax package done.’’
“I'm one of the few in the Senate that's saying we should not leave Washington and go back to our home states in August,’’ Perdue said.
Republican congressional leaders and Trump administration officials, however, don’t yet have a tax package to present to Congress. Officials have said they hope to have a proposal before Congress returns after Labor Day.
Likewise, Senate Republicans are meeting behind closed doors on their health care legislation.
Congress rarely has shortened the traditional August recess in the recent decades since enactment of the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act, which mandated a summer break.
The Senate did delay recess until Aug. 25 in 1994 and Aug. 11 in 1995 during the first term of the Clinton administration.
The last time Congress enacted major tax reform, in 1986, the recess was delayed until mid-August, according to the Senate Library.
In 2005 Congress returned a few days early from its summer recess to vote on an emergency spending bill to provide aid to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.