Quick Takes on the News: Recesses and Term Limits

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined by Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. John Thune, meets with reporters after a closed-door Republican strategy session Tuesday.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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July 11, 2017, 8 p.m.

McConnell goes nuclear on recess time

Un­til Tues­day, only three things were cer­tain in the world: death, taxes, and con­gres­sion­al re­cesses. Mitch Mc­Con­nell has a say on two of them, and his de­cision to delay the Au­gust re­cess by two weeks makes him rare among con­gres­sion­al lead­ers, who of­ten bluster about yank­ing va­ca­tion time away from mem­bers but rarely do. In 2009, Sen­ate lead­er Harry Re­id threatened to keep sen­at­ors away from their Me­mori­al Day and Au­gust breaks, but that went nowhere. Ditto House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, who threatened to dock mem­bers a re­cess week in Septem­ber of 2013.

The House lead­er­ship ac­tu­ally did make mem­bers stick around in the sum­mer of 2014—after sen­at­ors had already bolted for home—to vote on a bor­der-fund­ing bill. But it was only for one day.

One group cer­tainly wasn’t happy about Mc­Con­nell’s de­cision: journ­al­ists. As Huff­Post’s Matt Fuller tweeted: “There was an aud­ible moan in the Sen­ate press gal­lery as we all learned Mc­Con­nell is delay­ing Au­gust re­cess.”

—Jeff Dufour

For Mullin, pledges are made to be broken

GOP Rep. Mark­wayne Mul­lin of Ok­lahoma ruffled a few feath­ers last week when he reneged on a pledge to serve only three terms, with his former home-state sen­at­or Tom Coburn go­ing so far as to say he’ll act­ively work to de­feat him.

But it’s not the only pledge Mul­lin broke. The grass­roots group U.S. Term Lim­its points out that Mul­lin also went back on his pledge to co­spon­sor the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment on con­gres­sion­al term lim­its. Out of 36 pledge sign­ers in the House, he’s the only one not to co­spon­sor the res­ol­u­tion. In the Sen­ate, two mem­bers out of 13, Bill Cas­sidy and Tim Scott, haven’t backed their pledge.

“It’s very disin­genu­ous of someone to say they’ll only serve three terms and then break that pledge,” said Nick Tomboulides, U.S. Term Lim­its’ ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or. Mul­lin’s cam­paign didn’t reply to a re­quest for com­ment. In a video pos­ted last week, Mul­lin said he’s aware that “people are go­ing to be up­set,” but it’s im­port­ant for Ok­lahoma to “have people in key places.”

Jeff Dufour

Rep. Markwayne Mullin speaks on Capitol Hill on May 16, 2013. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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