The House should stay in session during August unless it can knock out enough of its legislative priorities, the chamber's third-ranking Democrat said Monday evening.
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) raised the specter of working past the point at which lawmakers are scheduled to break for their yearly August recess.
Clyburn said the House should stay in session until it can pass an extension in unemployment benefits and other top legislative priorities.
"I think we ought to stay in until we get something done for the American workers, because we're now approaching Labor Day — the day that we celebrate what they mean, what working men and women mean to this country," the whip said on MSNBC. "And we ought not celebrate Labor Day with them without their unemployment compensation checks, hopefully with some jobs as well."
The House is scheduled to break after work on Friday, July 30 — a date of departure moved up a week by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Hoyer said the House would "complete its business" by then, which allowed "ample time to both continue our work to create jobs, promote fiscal responsibility and investigate the BP oil spill, as well as have members in their districts hearing directly from their constituents."
The unemployment bill to which Clyburn referred has stalled in the Senate for weeks on end, with Republicans in that chamber joining together to demand that the spending be offsets with cuts elsewhere. He suggested that other slow-moving items could keep the House in past the deadline as well.
"There's a jobs bill, sitting over there in the Senate, that we can't seem to move," he said. "There are other things in there that we need to be doing for the American people that we ought to do before we go home in August, because if you don't do it, there's going to be a very horrible back-to-school celebration for too many families."
The Democratic whip suggested lawmakers should have worked through their Fourth of July recess.
"I was certainly willing to stick around," said Clyburn, calling a colleague's demand that they stay in session a "good approach."
"But it was a little bit unseemly for us to be taking the July 4 break, knowing full well that there are so many families who are not going to be able to enjoy the festivities of our country's birthday because they were not going to get their unemployment checks," he said.