Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Seven-week House recess faces cut

The steps to the U.S. House are seen against a backdrop of the Capitol Dome.
The steps to the House of Representatives. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As members of the House fly home Friday for an extra-long August recess, they leave knowing they’ll almost certainly have their break cut short.

Why it matters: Despite the threat of a spreading Delta variant, riveting testimony about the Jan. 6 insurrection and debate over an infrastructure bill that will affect roads and bridges coast to coast, lawmakers are currently scheduled to be away from Washington until mid-September.

  • "The fact that we take six weeks away from here in light of the circumstance that we face now as a country — both domestically and abroad — it is absurd," Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) told Axios.
  • Phillips said: "I think we should be here regularly during the August recess, even absent an infrastructure challenge or COVID challenge or Jan. 6."

Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) pushed back on the notion that taking a lengthy August recess is bad optics for members.

  • "It's actually an opportunity to go back to our districts and encourage people to get vaccinated, with the rise of the Delta variant," she said.
  • "The American people should know that when we are in our districts, we're working for them," Barragán said.

Members are currently playing a waiting game, and they expect they'll return as soon as the Senate passes an infrastructure deal. Their schedule likely won't be updated until that happens.

  • Another possibility is calling the House back in late August, per a House leadership aide, cutting the district work period regardless of the circumstance.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) set the expectation early in July, writing in a “Dear Colleague” letter that members will be provided “sufficient notice” of any changes in the schedule.
  • In his own letter to senators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted “long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington” into August to pass major legislation.
  • Hoyer said, "The House will do what it needs in order to accomplish the same."

Go deeper: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee investing the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, told reporters the panel could have another hearing in August.

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