Senate leaves for five-week August recess

Senate leaves for five-week August recess
© Greg Nash
Senators left Washington on Thursday for a five-week August recess, capping off a slog of a summer stretch.
Before leaving, lawmakers passed a two-year budget deal, which suspends the debt ceiling through mid-2021, and confirmed 13 judicial nominees and other high-profile picks, including Kelly Craft to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 
Senators made no secret that they were ready to get out of town for the August break after last year's recess was shortened amid a push by conservatives to stay in session and keep vulnerable Democratic incumbents off the campaign trail. 
"I can't wait. Don't take it personally though," he added. 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate Democrats introduce legislation to probe politicization of pandemic response Schumer interrupted during live briefing by heckler: 'Stop lying to the people' Jacobin editor: Primarying Schumer would force him to fight Trump's SCOTUS nominee MORE (D-N.Y.) opened a press conference Thursday by telling reporters "good afternoon," then joked, "I really feel bad that I will not be wishing you a good afternoon for another five weeks."
"Because we're all leaving here, I'm in a good mood," Schumer added. 
Even McConnell appeared to be smiling as he asked to adjourn the Senate on Thursday, marking the end of the last legislative session until September. 
Before leaving, senators passed several bills by voice vote and dozens of nominations including nine ambassador picks, Mark Greenblatt to be the Department of Interior watchdog and Vice Adm. Michael Gilday to be the chief of naval operations.
On the Senate floor, senators have largely been focused on nominations during the past month, as well the budget deal and failed veto override attempts. 
But off the Senate floor, Republicans have found themselves playing defense over a myriad of Trump remarks, including the president's suggestion that he would accept dirt on a political opponent, his feud with four Democratic women of color known as the "squad" and his decision to float and yank nominations. 
"People talk about things up here that people back home don't really seem quite so obsessed about, like what the president tweeted or what he said," Cornyn said. 
The session was also marked by contentious fights, including Republicans blocking election security legislation and a decision by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot MORE (R-S.C.) to waive committee rules to move an asylum bill over objection, which sparked outrage by Democrats on Thursday. 
But the Senate is kicking several issues to the fall including how to fund the government, ongoing talks about Trump's trade deal and plans for moving surprise medical billing and drug pricing legislation. 
Schumer knocked McConnell during a press conference shortly before the Senate adjourned Thursday saying he has turned the chamber into a "graveyard." 
"Leader McConnell has turned what used to be the world's greatest deliberative body into a legislative graveyard. The perfect complement to our get nothing done president," Schumer said. "Leader McConnell's Senate has been a big black hole." 
But Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Romney backs pre-election Supreme Court vote, paving way for McConnell, Trump Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, indicated he thought Republicans would have plenty to tout when they are back in their home states this month. 
"Obviously a lot of the work that we've done so far to confirm judges that's something a lot of voters care about. … The things that we've done to fund the military and help out with ensuring that we've got steady predictable national security funding is something that our voters are going to care about," Thune said. 
He added that "the trade deal, prescription drugs, robo-calls, there are a whole bunch of things that we teed up that we'll hopefully get votes on when we get back this fall."