Umm, McConnell, Why Isn’t The Senate Working Full Weeks?

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened his Republican colleagues with full work weeks, including weekends, until they are able to successfully push President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. Senators are not in session Friday, raising questions about the validity of McConnell’s promise.

McConnell told his colleagues in October that he would make them work five-day weeks and may even hold Senate sessions on weekends if they continue to fail to score a major legislative victory, Politico reports. The Senate is not in session Friday, despite numerous failures to repeal and replace Obamacare. Their absence is also notable considering that senators have yet to pass comprehensive tax reform or come through in a major way on infrastructure.

The senate majority leader’s office, when asked why the legislative body is not in session Friday, directed The Daily Caller News Foundation to a Politico story that reports McConnell traded Friday’s session to Democrats in exchange for expedited votes on a handful of circuit court nominations Thursday. Essentially, McConnell traded a full day he and his colleagues (both Republican and Democratic) could have used to make progress in another policy area, like tax reform, in exchange for a longer weekend.

McConnell’s trade is interesting for a number of reasons, other than the fact it throws shade on his promise to make the legislative body work tenaciously to score victories for the president and the party.

The first is that Democrats have remained unanimously opposed to the president’s and, in turn, the Republican’s agenda. Senate Democrats voted in lockstep to keep Obamacare during every repeal attempt in 2017 and are already signaling they will vote against tax reform if it provides any tax cuts to wealthy Americans. While McConnell is offering olive branches to Democrats, it does not appear he will get anything more going forward in return for his trade.

Another reason McConnell’s deal is striking is because Republicans only have a few legislative weeks left in the 2017 calendar and Republican leadership is promising the White House that it will have a tax reform bill on Trump’s desk for approval this year. Senators have 31 legislative days left in 2017, according to the Senate calendar.

Senate leadership, along with their Republican counterparts in the House, is currently focused on shepherding tax reform through a chamber that has had a rough time passing major bills this year. In addition to tax reform, Congressional Republicans still have to figure out a way to fund the government, confirm in excess of 200 federal and court nominees and deal with the ever approaching 2018 midterm elections.

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