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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Congress will take 218 days off this year. In 30-day months, that’s 7.2 months off.

For comparison, you probably get the weekends off, 104 days, plus 10 days of federal holidays, if you’re lucky, and maybe two weeks vacation, for a total of 128 days off. That means you work 237 days a year (238 in leap years). The House will be working just slightly more than the days you get off — 147 in 2017.


And President Trump has had quite enough of that.

In several pointed tweets on Tuesday morning, Trump expressed his frustration with the obstructionist Democrats in the House and Senate — as well as his own Republicans, who are thinking about just packing it in and rolling home before passing a health care overhaul bill.

A clearly miffed Mr. Trump tweeted: “The Senate Democrats have only confirmed 48 of 197 Presidential Nominees. They can’t win so all they do is slow things down & obstruct!”

And he retweeted a “Fox and Friends” post that quoted Sen. Ted Cruz saying: “SEN. CRUZ: It’s crazy to go an August recess without having Obamacare repealed. We should work every day until it is done!”

A few days before, Mr. Trump tweeted: “I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!”

Congress had planned to work just 11 more days and then bail out of town for 38 days (nice work if you can get it!), but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got Mr. Trump’s message. He canceled nearly half of the Senate’s summer vacation later on Tuesday, saying Congress needs more time to make progress on Mr. Trump’s agenda.

Aside from pushing the nothingburger Russia collusion story, Democrats have also obstructed even the most basic operations in the federal government. Democrats have shut down more than 90 percent of Trump’s nominations for office — for comparison, Republicans filibustered just 10 percent of President Obama’s picks in his first six months.

But Mr. Trump has some power, too, and he just might use it.

“The president has every right to call Congress back if necessary,” Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said in a White House briefing Monday.

Mr. Short said the Democratic blockade is jeopardizing national security, denying Americans a fully staffed federal government and grinding other legislation to a halt. “Democrats even walked out of committee hearings to deny quorums, like schoolchildren taking their toys from the playground,” he said. “But it is the American people who are being hurt.”

Mr. Short blames Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, who he says has “run an unprecedented campaign of obstruction.”

Mr. Schumer shot back, “Thus far, the nomination process has been defined by the failure of the Trump administration to submit names for hundreds of vacant jobs, incomplete and delayed ethics and nominations paperwork from the nominees themselves, and repeated withdrawals of nominees for key positions,” his office said in a statement.

Still, it’s bad. How bad is it? Read this passage from a Wall Street Journal piece from Tuesday:

“Democratic obstruction against nominees is nearly total, most notably including a demand for cloture filings for every nominee — no matter how minor the position. This means a two-day waiting period and then another 30 hours of debate. The 30-hour rule means Mr. Trump might not be able to fill all of those 400 positions in four years. The cloture rule also allows the minority to halt other business during the 30-hour debate period, which helps slow the GOP policy and oversight agenda.

“Democrats have also refused to return a single ‘blue slip’ to the Judiciary Committee, which has the effect of blocking consideration of judicial nominees from their home states. Senators like Minnesota’s Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are holding hostage the eminently qualified Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for no reason other than politics.”

But Mr. Trump is aghast that Congress could possibly leave the repeal and replacement of Obamacare unfinished while it goes on vacation.

Sadly, Mr. Trump is also fighting his own party, and Mr. McConnell is offering to compromise on the replacement health care bill now working its way through the Senate.

The question is, will Trump keep working for public support through Twitter, or declare full-out war with Democrats — and Republicans — on Capitol Hill?

Who knows? But for a start, Mr. President, don’t let Congress go home. They get paid to work — $174,000 a year, which, at 147 work days is $1,183 a day, or nearly $150 an hour, putting lawmakers solidly at the top of wage earners in America.

So, President Trump, make them work. You said you’d drain the swamp, and here the gators are all right here.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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