Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced on Friday that, after next week, the House won’t be returning to session until after the Nov. 6 elections.
A planned one-week session in Washington at the start of October has been scrapped. That means when the House adjourns next Friday, the chamber will not be scheduled to cast any votes again until Nov. 13.
Speaking on the House floor, Cantor said that the decision for House members not to return to the Capitol in October has been made given the Senate’s anticipated passage next week of a bill to keep government running beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year, a bill already passed on Thursday in the House.
The House still plans to hold its session next week as scheduled, starting next Wednesday evening, through Friday. One bill Republicans plan to bring to the floor next week would create a new green-card category for foreigners who have received doctorate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, and math (the so-called STEM disciplines).
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., responded on the floor with some incredulity, saying that although there remains much legislation left to be completed, Cantor’s announcement means that lawmakers now have about two days of session work remaining. The two then argued about which party is to blame for stalled or no action on such issues as the farm bill, postal-service reform, the Violence Against Women Act, and renewing the George W. Bush-era tax cuts.
At one point, when Cantor included the farm bill in his comments about Democratic refusal to engage in “real reform” in some of those bills, Hoyer fired back that it is the House Republican leadership that has chosen not to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor.
On Thursday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had said she did not know for sure, but was worried that Republicans were planning not to return in October.
She told reporters, “I want you to know the Democrats stand ready to be here for as long as it takes to pass a jobs bill, to come to agreement on a budget bill, to avoid the sequester..." -- the scheduled cuts to defense and domestic spending set for Jan. 2.
“Unfortunately, the Do Nothing Congress wants to go home,” Pelosi said.
“Instead of leaving town for seven weeks after being gone for four or five weeks [this summer], let's work across the aisle to restore fiscal responsibility, put people to work, and strengthen the middle class. We absolutely have to do that for the American people,” she said.