From a certain perspective, this June 30 report was the least surprising story of the year:
The GOP’s long-stalled agenda is boiling over.
A group of 10 senators is sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday morning asking for the GOP leader to shorten the August recess — or cancel it altogether — if the party does not make significant headway on its priorities in July, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO. The letter comes right after Congress left Thursday and scattered across the country for a July 4 recess.
Spearheaded by Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, the bloc of 10 senators said the five-week break should be on the table if Republicans don’t make progress on repealing Obamacare, passing a budget, averting a government shutdown at the end of September, avoiding a debt default and get to their top priority: Reforming the tax code…
“Our current Senate calendar shows only 33 potential working days remaining before the end of the fiscal year. This does not appear to give us enough time to adequately address the issues that demand immediate attention. Therefore, we respectfully request that you consider truncating, if not completely foregoing, the scheduled August state work period, allowing us more time to complete our work.” the senators wrote.
In addition, to Perdue, the letter is signed by Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Luther Strange of Alabama, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. The group includes many of the most recently elected GOP senators, a group hungry for accomplishment.
The House Freedom Caucus similarly asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to cancel the August break.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, reaffirmed his call for the August recess to be canceled on Fox News yesterday.
The idea that these House and Senate Republicans want the August recess cut short or canceled because they’re so concerned about their unfinished business is, as Rachel Maddow might say, bullpucky. These hacks simply don’t want to face the wrath of the public, during August town hall meetings, over their deference to Trump and their attempts to strip millions of Americans of their health care–and they know it will look really bad if they refuse to hold such meetings during the recess. If they’re still “working” in August, problem solved.
Speaking of Maddow, remember eight years ago when she pointed out the orchestrated right-wing effort by Freedomworks and other wingnut groups to disrupt town halls held by Democratic members of Congress in an attempt to derail passage of the Affordable Care Act? These Republicans assume that left-leaning groups are planning the same thing—that somewhere in a smoke-filled room, George Soros is cooking up a scheme to have progressive activists flood town-hall meetings next month to rhetorically rumble with Republicans.
The problem with this thinking is that in 2017, the public’s anger is genuine, not generated. If the recess is not shortened or canceled, Republican House and Senate members will likely be bombarded during town hall meetings with demands for them to finally stand up to Donald Trump, to publicly denounce the anti-voting viciousness of Kris Kobach and the anti-science scheming of Scott Pruitt, to choose between Putin’s puppet and the people. Those are demands Republicans don’t want to hear.
Don’t think for a moment Republicans have become overconfident in the wake of the Democratic Party’s recent special-election losses. They’re nervous as hell; they know public anger over their deference to Trump builds exponentially every single day, and they want to hide from that anger for as long as possible—and hope against hope that Kobach’s voter-suppression project will save them from losing their seats in 2018. Just as Trump doesn’t want to meet the press, House and Senate Republicans would prefer not to face the nation.