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The Lonely Votes to Cancel August Recess

Updated 2:51 p.m. | Rep. Scott Rigell’s formal crusade to stop the August recess may have fallen on deaf ears in leadership ranks, but he plans to continue opposing the looming five-week break in other ways.

He will, for one thing, vote on Thursday afternoon against the rule providing for floor consideration of three bills — plus an adjournment resolution.

“Though leaving Washington for five weeks in the summer may be House tradition, it is not wise,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement. “I will be voting ‘no’ on the rule allowing the House to adjourn.

“If we recess for five consecutive weeks, as called for in the House calendar, that leaves just nine legislative days remaining in the fiscal year to finish critical work,” Rigell continued. “Regardless of how it may be explained or rationalized, a vote for the rule is a vote to adjourn. And adjournment ensures we will resort to yet another CR to fund the government. I respectfully, but firmly, reject the premise that CRs are acceptable and inevitable.”

Rigell is not alone, though, with Democrats also calling for the House to stay in session through the month.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the House Budget Committee’s top Democrat, sent a letter Thursday afternoon to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, urging him to keep Congress in session so the House can move forward the budget.

“I write to urge you to keep Congress in session to continue the work that the American people sent us here to do — chief among those tasks being to pass a final budget, pay our nation’s bills, and help put more people back to work,” Van Hollen wrote. “I also urge you to immediately appoint conferees and begin a conference to adopt a reasonable budget plan, which Democrats have been urging for months. The Senate passed a budget 131 days ago and has asked for unanimous consent to begin negotiations 17 times, yet we remain at a standstill.

“The failure to bring the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill up for a vote and the inability of the Appropriations Committee to mark up a Labor-HHS-Education bill show that even House Republicans cannot proceed with their own austere budget,” he continued.

House Minority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., at a new conference on Thursday morning, also urged lawmakers to remain in town — and, like Van Hollen, said Republicans were to blame.

“This Congress has been the least productive in which I’ve served,” Hoyer said. “Nine days is but apparently a blink of the eye if you’re going to continue to focus on legislation that has not a prayer of passage. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re sending messages to the radical right on a weekly basis.”

On Thursday and Friday, the House floor will take up bills in honor of “Stop Government Abuse Week,” which includes what Democrats are calling — with disdain — the 40th vote to repeal the 2010 health care law: legislation that would stop the IRS from implementing any portion of Obamacare.

Then it’s back to work in September, where the crowded agenda involves the farm bill, the postponed transportation and housing appropriations bill and, of course, a deal to continue funding the government past the end of the month.