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Washington • Sen. Mike Lee joined nine fellow Republicans on Tuesday to demand the Senate cancel its August recess – and, Lee added, perhaps even work weekends – to finish up critically important and time-sensitive legislation.
An hour later, the Utah Republican got part of his wish.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the chamber would remain in session the first two weeks of August, cutting in half Congress' usual summer break from Washington.
"In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the August recess until the third week of August," McConnell said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Lee noted there was no reason the Senate should jet out of town.
"We have an enormous amount of work to do," Lee said. "And whether you are the left end of the political spectrum or the right end or somewhere in between, it's difficult to dispute the fact there's a lot that needs to get done."
The Senate is likely to take up its plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, next week, but it still has a slew of issues to deal with, including tackling tax reform, an increase to the country's debt limit and budget bills.
"I also think we even need to look at things like weekends, particularly as we're up against different time crunches," Lee said. "We ought to be prepared to work long hours and not take this recess."
Before McConnell announced an extended session, there were only 31 legislative days planned by the Senate leaders until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said early Tuesday that Congress has a big to-do list and, "We can't pass bills back home."
"Anybody who thinks we can get all of that done by the end of the year, that's just a testament to the power of human denial," Kennedy said, adding, "I don't know many working class Americans who get to take a month off."
The House is still scheduled to break at the end of July, returning to session Sept. 5.