CROSS POSTED AT National Type.
For all the crowing about getting something done by the August recess, there isn’t a lot of urgency on Capitol Hill. It may be that Pelosi and Hoyer have decided not to put their conservative Democrats in a tough place by voting for a House bill with certain provisions, like a surtax on the wealthiest households in America, without the Senate giving some indication of what they are likely to accept. But the Senate goes out of town on August 7, a full week after the House does, so it has a little more time.
Meanwhile, there was virtually no legislative action on the House bill in the latter half of this week because Blue Dogs are holding up the bill is committee, apparently playing some kind of game of chicken with the 37,000 Americans that lose their health insurance every week. Some decent things have been added to the bill, but nothing revolutionary and certainly nothing that was being ruled out before the Blue Dogs got all up-in-arms about it. Democrats are at a tipping point, either the Blue Dogs peel off and let the bill through committee or it looks like Waxman might just bypass himself to get it to the floor. I prefer the latter option because, as Ezra Klein pointed out, people in the end are going to judge the product on whether or not it passes, not whether or not Democrats had to bypass one committee for its original House passage.
So, those two paragraphs were all backstory to present this thought: why isn’t Congress working on Friday and the weekends? They’re losing 4-6 days of potential action — that’s basically another week, which is what most people are speculating Congress would shorten their August vacation by if that is what they decided to do.
I’ve always been skeptical of criticism of presidential vacations. Absent major legislative work that requires face-to-face hand-holding by the President, it’s not like he goes to Camp David and suddenly no one is running the country. He’s still working, just from a slightly more scenic location. So, in that vein, I know that people won’t completely stop talking over the weekend or during the August recess, but that is a lot of time to waste when one claims they are doing everything they can to get a bill passed.