Conservatives to McConnell: Time to Force Issue on Nominees, Spending Bills

Sen. Perdue, conservative groups call on GOP leader to cancel August recess if work remains

Mitch McConnell
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• May 9, 2018 5:00 am


Conservative senators and outside groups are asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to take a more confrontational approach with Democrats to confirm President Donald Trump's nominees and pass spending bills before they pile up and become bloated at the end of the year.

Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) and other likeminded Republicans are trying to stop the cycle of Congress waiting until the end of the year to pass a massive spending bill full of hidden waste and to end Democrats' obstruction of Trump nominees.

They want to stop Democrats from using delaying tactics on political appointments that most of them wind up supporting anyway, as well as try to speed up the Senate's appropriations process so the bills do not snowball into a massive omnibus measure that the president is forced to sign at the end of the year lest the government shut down.

Perdue and several conservative outside groups, including the Tea Party Patriots, are urging McConnell to keep senators in Washington for five full days a week and on the weekends so the Senate can force Democrats to stop the delaying tactics.

If the Senate has not confirmed all the outstanding nominations and passed all of its spending bills by the end of July, they want McConnell to cancel the normal August recess period and require Congress to remain in D.C. to wrap up its work.

Perdue and several other GOP senators plan to send a letter to McConnell later this week encouraging him to keep the Senate in on Mondays and Fridays and in August if it has not finished its spending bills and wrapped up work on the confirmations.

"This is a commitment to [McConnell] that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to get these confirmations accomplished and also to ensure that we debate the funding bills now in whatever manner they come," Perdue told reporters Tuesday.

"We have an uphill battle, and we believe we have to get outside the box in terms of getting the government funded before September 30," he added.

Canceling the August recess would be particularly punitive for Senate Democrats, as well as vulnerable Republicans running for reelection, although there are far more Senate Democrats than Republicans in close reelection contests this year.

Perdue and other rank-and-file Republicans, such as Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, have spent months trying to press McConnell to do more to pressure Democrats to back down from their delaying tactics.

Instead of deferring to most presidential appointees by agreeing to conserve precious Senate floor time, Democrats have demanded that each political nominee receive 30 hours of debate, a process known as invoking cloture.

Perdue and several other GOP senators sent a letter to McConnell last year committing to spending the August break in Washington if that would give him and other GOP leaders more leverage to get the nominations confirmed.

With the added leverage, McConnell canceled one week of the recess and the Senate was able to push 77 confirmations through in one day before senators left Washington.

Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, said on Tuesday there's an even greater need for the Senate to remain and complete its work with 270 Trump nominees still waiting for Senate confirmation and Democrats continuing their "historic obstruction."

In 16 months in office, Short said the Trump administration has faced 89 Democratic-led filibuster votes on nominees compared to just 32 Senate filibusters of presidential nominees over the course of the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton administrations combined.

"The only way to stop this is to stay in on weekends and through the summer recess until [Democrats] go back to the normal process," Short said.

Jenny Beth Martin, cofounder of Tea Party Patriots, said her group is starting to circulate a petition this week aimed at pressing McConnell to keep the Senate in sessions until its work speeds up.

She is asking senators to sign a "Make Congress Work Again" pledge. If the confirmations and the appropriations bills aren't completed by the end of July, she said her group and several others would hold protests in senators' state offices calling for more action.

"Coming to work late Monday afternoon and leaving early Friday afternoon is ridiculous" when there is such a backlog of work to do on confirmations and spending bills, she said.

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), who now runs the Conservative Partnership Institute, said conservatives across the country are angry that government isn't working in Washington, especially when it comes to spending bills.

Congressional leaders, he said, are pushing the government funding process "right up to the edge and giving members of Congress a day if they're lucky" and the president only a few minutes to sign massive omnibus spending bills at the end of the year or risk shutting down the government.

Published under: Mitch McConnell