Summer break is now officially underway for the House, with lawmakers expected to be out of Washington until September.

The House adjourned Wednesday evening for its five-week August recess and won’t have votes again until Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Wednesday capped a July session dominated by Republican divides on highway funding, a controversy over displaying the Confederate flag, and a last-minute effort from a conservative rebel to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

In one of its final votes before adjourning, the House passed a three-month extension of highway funding that punts this month’s debate to Oct. 29. House GOP leaders opted to let members go home for the August recess a day early, in part to leave the Senate with no other option but to pass the temporary highway funding patch.

{mosads}The Senate is expected to accept the House’s three-month bill, after initially refusing to back down from a six-year measure that only provides actual funding for three years.

The House’s three-month highway bill notably does not include a renewal of the Export-Import Bank’s charter, which expired at the end of June. Conservative groups pushing to end the Export-Import Bank notched another victory in ensuring the bank’s charter will remain unauthorized through the summer.

Autumn is already shaping up to be an intense season for lawmakers when they return from summer break. The House will have a full plate when it returns to session the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Congress will face a mid-September deadline on a measure serving as a referendum on the Iran deal. Lawmakers will also have to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, which is expected to be a stopgap measure lasting only a few months.

And in the backdrop of both debates, Pope Francis will address Congress on Sept. 24 in an event that’s likely to feature crowds and fanfare similar to a presidential inauguration.

Further, lawmakers will have at least until the end of October to deal with how to raise the debt limit.

The House left multiple items undone, despite being originally slated for consideration this month. Two individual 2016 appropriations bills, for the Interior Department and Financial Services and General Government programs, were removed from the schedule due to controversy over the display of the Confederate flag.

Even before the Confederate flag squabble, the 2016 appropriations process was already doomed because Democrats oppose budget caps, known as sequestration, used to craft the spending bill. Senate Democrats blocked consideration of spending bills to sustain a veto threat from President Obama.

House GOP leaders nonetheless wanted to plow through as many individual spending bills as possible, managing to pass six. But the open amendment process used to consider appropriations measures ultimately turned against them when Democrats started offering amendments to ban the display of the Confederate flag, which divided the GOP conference.

Plans to vote this month on a patent reform bill were also scrapped due to concerns about whether it could pass. Legislation to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the 2016 defense authorization and trade customs measures didn’t make it to the floor before the August break, either.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) threw fellow House Republicans a curveball when he introduced a resolution late Tuesday evening to oust Boehner as Speaker. But his effort appeared to fall flat among many conservatives and establishment Republicans alike.

Across the Capitol, senators will have to watch enviously as their House counterparts skip town for summer recess. The Senate is expected to remain in session until next week in order to finish work on highway funding legislation and, in the wake of three controversial videos, a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

Lawmakers of both parties were openly gleeful about leaving for the long August break. About half an hour before the last votes of the day began at 5 p.m., House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) jokingly asked reporters in the press gallery why they were still working. 

But not all House members raced to the airport as soon as the last votes on Wednesday concluded. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still has her weekly press conference scheduled Thursday morning in the Capitol. 

Tags Boehner John Boehner

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video