Updated May 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House GOP pushes Senate to cancel recess over debt ceiling

Rep. Marc Molinaro. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

A group of more than a dozen House Republicans is urging the Senate to cancel its upcoming recess in the absence of a debt ceiling bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It reflects increasing anxiety among lawmakers about the impending fiscal cliff after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated a potential June 1 deadline in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday.

  • Key senators told Axios cancelling the recess is not out of the question.

Driving the news: The 14 House Republicans wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a copy of which was obtained by Axios, that the Senate should remain in session next week rather than taking its planned recess until May 22.

  • "During this critical period, the Senate is still scheduled to be out of session next week, a critical time leading up to June 1st, which we believe is irresponsible," they wrote.
  • “Senate lawmakers cannot go on vacation while the financial security of our nation and essential benefits on which Americans rely hang in the balance."
  • Schumer's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The details: More than half the signers represent districts President Biden won in 2020, including Rep. Marc Molinaro (N.Y.), who led the letter.

  • It is also signed by Reps. Dave Joyce (Ohio) and Dusty Johnson (S.D.), who chair the moderate Governance Group and pragmatist Main Street Caucus, and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

What they’re saying: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) cast cancellation as a possibility, telling Axios he warned colleagues to plan accordingly.

  • “I’m telling people don’t do anything with non-refundable tickets unless we get a status report on these negotiations,” he said.
  • Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) went further, arguing it’s more likely than not the recess is scrapped: “It’s hard to see, if this isn’t resolved by … the end of this week, how we aren’t around next week.”
  • Democrats, who hold the majority, set the schedule.

The state of play: There are just three legislative days before June 1 when both chambers are in session.

  • The Senate is scheduled to return from recess the week of May 28, but the House is set to be out of town then.
  • President Biden also plans to fly out of D.C. on Wednesday for the G7 summit in Japan.

The big picture: Some Republicans are also taking aim at Biden for not scrapping his G7 travel.

  • "I think everybody should ask Joe Biden, why is he leaving town at such a serious moment," said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chair of the Republican Study Committee.

Between the lines: A Senate leadership aide said one potential alternative would be to have senators on 24 or 48-hour notice – similar to how House members were summoned back to D.C. during the August recess last year to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect Dusty Johnson represents South Dakota, not North Dakota.

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