Taking a tough stance on summer: conservatives in U.S. House

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2017 12:38 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have taken a hard-line stance on yet another issue: the August recess.

The House Freedom Caucus, known for bucking Republican leadership on legislation including healthcare, has taken an official position on the traditional five-week break Congress takes from Washington: They don't want it.

The Freedom Caucus supports "the House staying in session through the August recess to continue working to accomplish the priorities of the American people," according to a brief statement the group issued late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, AshLee Strong, dismissed the idea of skipping the summer break. She said Republicans intend to stick to their agenda.

Republicans control both the House and Senate, but Congress has failed to pass major legislation yet this year. Republican President Donald Trump urged legislative leaders on Tuesday to finish an overhaul of the healthcare system this summer.

The White House also wants faster action on another Trump priority: tax cuts. But there are just seven weeks left until the August break - and one of them, the first week of July, Congress will be out to mark the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

An attempt to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act passed the House in May but has not advanced in the Senate.

Freedom Caucus leaders played a key role in first blocking the House healthcare legislation, then enabling it to pass after amendments were added allowing states to apply for waivers from insurance provisions that cover consumers with pre-existing conditions.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Doina Chiacu)