House GOP leaders may have trouble adjourning for the summer

However, the last time Congress voted against going on August break, it was an act of empty symbolism. Members held a boisterous vote to stay in session — in a sense, protesting their own failure to legislate — only to quietly adjourn for August just a few days later.

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This month is shaping up much like July 2012, when every Democrat and several dozen Republicans said the lack of a farm bill or any deal on middle class taxes meant they shouldn't adjourn for August.

In that 150-265 vote, 78 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to stay in session. Those Republicans ignored Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who warned that anyone voting to stay in session would be signed up for running brief pro forma sessions over August.

This year, Democrats have already been arguing that the House should not leave without first working out budget differences with the Senate and figuring out the farm bill.

Democrats are also mad that the House will leave town without passing any immigration bill, and are outraged that House Republicans have failed to call up any bill reauthorizing the federal food stamp program.

Among Republicans, some have already suggested that the House should keep working to finish the 12 annual spending bills. By the end of this week, the House is expected to have finished five of these bills.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) last week said the House should work six days a week through August until all the spending bills are done.

Another vote against adjourning would send a loud, public message that members are once again unhappy with their own performance. But just like last year, members may again find a way to quietly take the August break.

Last year's vote to stay in session was held on Aug. 2. That led to one uneventful pro forma session in the House the next day, a Friday.

After mulling it over during the weekend, the House returned the following Tuesday, when it was announced that the Senate-passed adjournment resolution was under consideration.

It was approved with no debate and no vote, and in a nearly empty chamber. The presiding officer, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), quickly announced, "Without objection the concurrent resolution is agreed to and a motion to reconsider is laid upon the table."

The voice vote makes it impossible to say if anyone still objected to adjourning — anyone still opposed was likely already out of town, taking their August break.