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Cancel August Recess? Senator Takes Case to Trump

Georgia’s David Perdue also sent letter to Mitch McConnell

Georgia Sen. David Perdue was meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday about possibly scrapping the August recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Georgia Sen. David Perdue was meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday about possibly scrapping the August recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Republican senator leading the call to cancel the August recess is taking his case to President Donald Trump.

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia led a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signed by nine other GOP senators, saying that there is simply too much unfinished business to take the traditional extended break in August.

“We must complete the first phase of Obamacare repeal and replace. Next, we have to pass a budget that serves as a reconciliation vehicle for reforming our outdated tax code. Before September 30th, we must agree on an appropriation that responsibly funds the government. Also, we must deal with our debt limit before that approximate date,” the 10 senators wrote to the Kentucky Republican. “If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform.”

Senate GOP leaders and a number of senators up for re-election in 2018 are unlikely to want to spend additional time at the Capitol building, but Perdue planned to discuss the legislative calendar and the call to curtail the August recess during a meeting with Trump on Friday at the White House, a Senate aide said.

The aide said the recess as well as immigration policy were expected to be the focus of the meeting, but the ongoing discussions about health care and the lack of consensus among members of the Senate Republican Conference was sure to come up as well.

“I think that the timeline and that is really something that’s up to Congress and not the White House,” Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Friday’s White House briefing, noting she has not discussed the matter with Trump.

The president and the Georgia senator have been close allies, with Trump seeming to connect with Perdue because of their shared background as businessmen without typical prior experience as elected officials.

Trump highlighted the presence of Perdue at his fundraiser for the Republican National Committee at his namesake hotel in Washington on Wednesday night, calling on Perdue to stand up, according to audio obtained by The Intercept.

“One of the great people and the great senators. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. If I would’ve known you were in the audience, I would’ve been nervous,” Trump said. “David Perdue.”

Trump also praised the effort of the senator’s cousin Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor, who is serving in the Cabinet as secretary of Agriculture.

The hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus has already called for rolling back the August recess in order to work on GOP and Trump administration priorities including the first major re-write of tax laws since 1986.

Last week, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told CNBC that he would adjust the schedule to get an overhaul of the tax code through the House.

“We can stay as long as it takes to get this done,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “The summer recess, and the days in session we are in session more than we usually are, I am not worried about that whatsoever.”

Joe Williams, John T. Bennett and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.