House votes 150-265 against adjourning for August recess

The House voted Thursday against adjourning for the August break, until Sept. 10, mostly on the strength of Democrats who have argued throughout the week that lawmakers should stay in session and finish work on a range of unfinished issues, including a farm bill and middle-class tax relief.

ADVERTISEMENT
But Democrats were joined by 78 Republicans who also voted against the adjournment resolution. The vote was 150-265 against adjourning.

By party, Republicans voted 150-78 in favor of adjourning. All voting Democrats were against the resolution. While many would prefer ongoing work in August, the vote means the House and Senate can be expected to hold pro forma sessions throughout the August break.

However, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) told The Hill after the vote by that by remaining in session, he expects to be able to report a farm bill out of his committee in the coming weeks.

Another Republican, Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.), said he voted against adjournment because he thinks Congress should not leave without a farm bill.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he made it clear that Republicans who voted against adjournment will be expected to manage the pro forma sessions over the break.

According to one GOP lawmaker, the leadership wasn't mad with their rogue colleagues, as much as they were frustrated over the lack of cohesive rationale for voting against the adjournment resolution. 

"The rationale for doing it was all over the place," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told The Hill. 

Some Republicans voted "no" to protest the lack of a farm bill. Some voted to deny Democrats the talking point that the House wasn't working in August, and others voted against adjourning to deny President Obama the ability to make recess appointments.

After the vote, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited the farm bill and other issues as reasons for why Democrats voted against adjourning.

"The Republican majority is prepared to adjourn the House of Representatives to leave for the August district work period without accomplishing what the American people have sent us here to do," she said. "They want us to create jobs. They want us to reduce the deficit. And they want us to do a middle-income tax cut, which the president has suggested and the American people overwhelmingly support.

"Instead, we have no jobs agenda, no tax cuts for the middle class, no farm bill, no Violence against Women Act, no cybersecurity strategy," she added.

"We are now at some point in time going to conclude four weeks in session with little to show for it," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. "Over the past month, the Republican do-nothing Congress has continued its relentless pursuit of message over substance."

Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said the lack of progress on taxes and the sequester lies with Senate Democrats, and reminded them that Republicans are willing to return to work on those issues.

"House Leaders made it clear earlier this week that we will bring the House back at any time if Senate Democrats act to stop the looming tax hikes or replace the devastating defense sequester with other spending cuts," he told The Hill. "On both issues, the House has acted — so House Democratic eaders should direct their complaints and comments to Senate Democrats, and President Obama."

Democrats were tweaked by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who made a parliamentary inquiry about whether Pelosi, when she was House Speaker four years ago, "turned off the lights and microphones" in a similar situation. Hoyer shot back that at that point, the House was no longer in session. Gohmert's parliamentary inquiry was ignored.

Under the Constitution, neither chamber of Congress can go on an official recess without the consent of the other, and without consent, pro forma sessions are usually held every few days in which the chamber meets but no work is conducted.

The Senate approved the adjournment resolution earlier in the day.

— Erik Wasson contributed.

— This story was updated at 6:15 p.m.