Dem leaders suggest Congress cancel next week’s recess

A top House Democrat suggested Wednesday that Congress scrap next week’s recess for the sake of addressing the drawn-out jobs crisis.

Both chambers are scheduled to take a break next week, when the faithful celebrate the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. But Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said soaring unemployment should take priority over the planned vacation.

“Frankly, a lot of us feel we ought to be working here [next week] to get the job done on behalf of those 14 million people who are unemployed,” Larson told reporters in the Capitol Wednesday. “This is a big crisis for this country, and we need to step up and face it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) floated a similar challenge to Republicans this week, suggesting that Congress remain in Washington to secure a deal on disaster-aid funding. Senate Democrats and House Republicans have been at odds over whether to offset billions of dollars in emergency help for states and victims of a string of recent natural disasters, including an East Coast hurricane, Midwestern floods and wildfires in Texas.

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“Remember, the government doesn’t shut down on Thursday or Friday,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “If they [Republicans] want to stay into next week, that's fine.”

Senate Democrats are pushing a $6.9 billion disaster-aid proposal that doesn’t cut spending on other government programs. The upper chamber passed that bill last week with support from 10 Republicans.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has vowed that the House this week will pass the GOP’s version of the bill. That proposal, which would provide almost $3.7 billion in emergency aid, has riled Democrats because it would partially offset the funding by gutting a clean-vehicles program.

Democratic leaders will whip opposition to the GOP bill when it hits the House floor Wednesday afternoon.