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Senators leave for first recess since Memorial Day

Votes on Vought confirmation, defense bill will continue when the Senate returns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made another aid bill a priority in the coming weeks, but the details are still in question.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made another aid bill a priority in the coming weeks, but the details are still in question. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators on Thursday left Capitol Hill for their first recess since before Memorial Day.

Even as the House and much of official Washington has had limited operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate followed through on a five-week work period in June.

There will now be a two-week recess, which had been planned in part because of the original schedule for the Democratic National Convention.

Senators are expected back at the Capitol on Monday, July 20. The chamber will only convene for brief pro-forma sessions between now and then.

Those short sessions meet the constitutional requirement for the Senate to convene and will block President Donald Trump from making recess appointments.

When the Senate returns, the first order of business will be finishing up confirmation of the president’s choice of Russell Vought to be the Senate-confirmed director of the Office of Management and Budget. Vought is the current acting director.

The Senate’s last roll call vote was on Senate Majority Leader Motch McConnell’s motion to limit debate on the Vought confirmation, which prevailed 47-44.

Once Vought is confirmed, it will be back to work on the fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill.

“This legislation has global reach. But as all my colleagues know, the NDAA is also a profoundly local bill for communities in all 50 states,” McConnell said Thursday before highlighting provisions that would benefit his home commonwealth of Kentucky.

The Senate on Thursday adopted by unanimous consent a manager’s package of amendments to that Pentagon policy bill, and provided for floor consideration of six additional amendments.

Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., said the vote on final passage was expected when the Senate returns from the recess. McConnell filed cloture to limit debate on both Inhofe’s substitute amendment and the underling defense measure Thursday, which sets up the votes when senators return.

The Senate’s NDAA would authorize $731.3 billion in defense spending in fiscal 2021.

Both Democrats and Republicans came to the Senate floor Thursday to praise the defense bill before the chamber closed for the week, urging their colleagues to pass it when senators return.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming called the bill smart, strong and strategic, and said it would honor a decades-long tradition of passing it each year.

Chris Cioffi contributed to this report.

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