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Wednesday, 13 November 2019   Subscription to updates  RSS
6:07, 19 August 2018

Senate in limbo among session and getaway as Manafort verdict looms

Senate in limbo among session and holiday as Manafort verdict looms

So considerably for the August recess on Capitol Hill.&nbsp

Or, perhaps, so much for the August session.&nbsp

Either way, there&rsquos no &ldquovacation&rdquo in August in Washington.&nbsp

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., initially planned to hold senators in August for most of the month, forgoing the customary and coveted 5-to-six-week &ldquoAugust recess&rdquo on Capitol Hill. But McConnell&rsquos summertime project hasn&rsquot really materialized &ndash but.&nbsp

The Senate met on Aug. 1 ahead of seizing a almost two-week summertime respite, returning for session at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 15.&nbsp

The Senate met for much less than hour on Wednesday. Recessed. Took a procedural vote late that afternoon. Adjourned for the day. Came back into session for a couple of votes on Thursday.

Following that? Senators reduce town mid-Thursday afternoon.&nbsp

The Senate was technically on the clock for about 29 hours. Most senators weren&rsquot even in Washington for 17 hours.&nbsp

The only issue august about this session involved the actual name of the month.&nbsp

&ldquoWelcome to the abbreviated week exactly where two Democrats and nine Republicans didn&rsquot show up,&rdquo trumpeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at a press conference. Schumer was referring to the attendance at the Senate&rsquos final vote for the week on Thursday.&nbsp

&ldquoThat implies you&rsquore in the majority?&rdquo observed a single reporter.&nbsp

&ldquoThat&rsquos appropriate. We are,&rdquo replied the New York Democrat.&nbsp

Just bear in mind the Senate&rsquos math. Fifty-one particular Republicans. Forty-nine senators who caucus with the Democrats. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,&nbsphas been out because final December, dealing with brain cancer. So, for all intents and purposes, the Senate is actually 50-49 in favor of the Republicans. But like McCain&rsquos absence — below the distinctive &ldquoAugust math&rdquo — Democrats theoretically handle the Senate 47-42 this month.&nbsp

Of course, that&rsquos not reality. But as lately as 2001, the Senate did flip from Republican to Democratic control in the middle of a congressional session. The Senate was 50-50 that year. But Republicans and Democrats forged an agreement that the GOP would hold the majority because Vice President Dick Cheney could break any ties.

Then Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont — who was a Republican &ndash abandoned his party to grow to be an independent. The now-late Jeffords would caucus with the Democrats. Control of the Senate genuinely changed, awarding the Democrats a 51-49 edge&nbsp

Schumer&rsquos plight throughout the abridged Senate week is akin to a conundrum facing President Lyndon Johnson when he served as Senate Democratic leader in the mid-1950s. Deaths flipped the Senate &ldquomajority&rdquo back and forth a staggering 12 instances for the duration of the two-year period constituting the 83rd Congress. In 1954, LBJ and Democrats touted far more members than Republicans. But senators allowed Sen. William Knowland, R-Calif.,&nbspto remain as majority leader.&nbsp

At least for August, Schumer can perhaps commiserate with the hand dealt Knowland.&nbsp

&ldquoI have the responsibilities of becoming the majority leader in this physique without having getting a majority,&rdquo mentioned Knowland.&nbsp

And McConnell could sympathize this previous week with Lyndon Johnson.&nbsp

&ldquoIf any individual has much more issues than a majority leader with a minority, it&rsquos a minority leader with a majority,&rdquo Johnson stated to Knowland.&nbsp

Fox is told McConnell wasn&rsquot pleased with the sparse attendance on his side of the aisle. Two Republican senators who penned a letter urging McConnell to nix the August recess had been nowhere to be found: Mike Lee of Utah, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.&nbsp

During the brief week, senators voted to confirm Marvin Quattlebaum and Julius Ness Richardson as judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate then launched debate on a combined bill to fund the Pentagon and Departments of Labor/Wellness and Human Services.&nbsp

Senators hope to wrap debate on the appropriations package by the end of next week. If that&rsquos the case, the Senate will have authorized nine of the 12 annual spending bills that run the federal government. That&rsquos no little feat, as the Senate typically lags the House. This is the quickest clip at which the Senate has OK’d appropriations bills in years.&nbsp

&ldquoIt has been far more than a decade because the Senate passed a Labor-HHS appropriations bill.&nbspAnd it has been a dozen years since the president was able to sign a defense appropriations bill into law ahead of the end of the fiscal year. These two records should be broken,&rdquo said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala.&nbsp

But senators from both parties groused about returning to meet for components of two days over a two-and-a-half-week period. They wondered if the Senate couldn&rsquot have returned next week and been a lot more productive, remaining in session by means of Labor Day.&nbsp

McConnell&rsquos office portrayed the week as a hectic one particular. The leader&rsquos aides sent Capitol Hill reporters a memo with the topic line &ldquoBusy, busy.&rdquo The note declared that the Senate would remain in session the rest of August despite &ldquorumors&rdquo to the contrary.&nbsp

All month? Or just a handful of days every single week. That remains to be seen. The Senate will most likely pass the appropriations bills late subsequent week. There&rsquos also a water bill, a lot more nominations and, as the memo from McConnell&rsquos workplace stressed &ldquomany other items.&rdquo&nbsp

When McConnell announced the cancellation of the August recess, Schumer stated Democrats would devote the month to wellness care. Democrats held a conference contact with reporters on the subject two weeks ago. They also staged a Capitol Hill forum this week. But at the sole Democratic leadership press conference, Democrats lamented their access to documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Democrats said they might sue the National Archives for access to Kavanaugh&rsquos paperwork.&nbsp

When asked, Schumer insisted the celebration was nonetheless focused on overall health care.&nbsp

&ldquoLast week, if you study The Washington Post, a paper that you have a great deal of respect for, there was story how Democrats all through the country are speaking about wellness care very successfully,&rdquo stated Schumer.&nbsp

And then it was back to Kavanaugh. Schumer mentioned he&rsquod huddle with Kavanaugh in the coming days.&nbsp

&ldquoI&rsquoll ask him all about these documents and what he intends to do about it,&rdquo said Schumer. &ldquoHe can&rsquot duck then.&rdquo&nbsp

But a shadow looms more than the Senate across the river in Alexandria, Virginia. The Senate&rsquos hardly the largest game in town this August. A verdict is anticipated quickly in the tax evasion and fraud trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.


A verdict will roil Washington. A guilty verdict will bolster the Russian election meddling investigation by by Particular Counsel Robert Mueller and enrage the president. Not guilty will give Trump a lot of ammo to argue that Mueller&rsquos investigation is a &ldquowitch hunt.&rdquo&nbsp

After Judge T.S. Ellis sent the Manafort jury to deliberate on Friday morning, he conducted a hearing in an unrelated case. Ellis inquired about the absence of many of the plaintiff&rsquos attorneys. The counsel who was present told Ellis that his colleagues were on &ldquovacation.&rdquo&nbsp

&ldquoTrip, you say?&rdquo replied Ellis, feigning a struggle to pronounce the word appropriately. &ldquoI&rsquoll have to appear that word up.&rdquo&nbsp

&ldquoYou must take a single, your honor,&rdquo suggested the counsel.&nbsp

But then, we wouldn&rsquot have a truly big news story in August.

Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill group. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy concerns being introduced, debated and voted on there.

Published at Sat, 18 Aug 2018 17:37:00 +0000

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