Skip to content

Rigell and Democrats Agree on One Thing

Here’s one thing the House’s Democratic leaders and one rank-and-file Republican can agree on: the August recess should be canceled.

On Monday, the press shop of the chamber’s Democratic leadership blasted out an email to reporters calling on Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to cancel recess — because Republicans brought it upon themselves.

“This week marks the last days — four working days to be exact — before the GOP-led House will skip town for five weeks leaving behind a mountain of unfinished business and unresolved issues with pressing deadlines,” reads the email. “Speaker Boehner, enough is enough. It is time to lead by example — cancel recess and come to the table. Democrats are ready to find solutions for the American people.”

Just last week, Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., said he’d ask leadership to call off the annual five-week break so that Congress can work on spending bills.

“We are in a serious, serious financial condition,” he told Roll Call’s Matt Fuller on July 26. “And there is this belief that this bumpy, painful path that we’re on is the new normal — that it is acceptable and inevitable. They are neither acceptable nor inevitable, and I reject the premise.”

Of course, asking for recess to be canceled has long been a favorite messaging tactic for members on both sides of the aisle, even though it’s rare that the call is heeded.

The last time the August recess was interrupted was in 2010, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., summoned lawmakers back to Washington after an early departure when the Senate unexpectedly cleared the way for House passage of a bill providing the states money to pay for Medicaid and teachers’ salaries.

Members were, of course, none too pleased. Congress mandated the August recess as part of the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act, designed in part to give members a chance to spend time with constituents on their home turf, but also to help them flee the oppressive D.C. summer swelter.

Even freshmen Rep. Ami Bera, the California Democrat who’s also the subject of this week’s HOH Take Five interview, recently remarked to CQ Roll Call that the weather here is bad compared to Sacramento.