How Congressional Leaders Spent Their Summer Vacation

Cincinnati Reds infielder Pete Rose chases after ball as his cap comes off, 1976. (AP Photo)
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Michael Catalin
Aug. 25, 2013, 8:30 a.m.

From polit­ic­al fun­draisers to speak­ing events on wo­men and the eco­nomy, dur­ing the re­cess con­gres­sion­al lead­ers have been cris­scross­ing the coun­try, rais­ing money, and in some cases dis­cuss­ing strategy with col­leagues for the com­ing fisc­al fights when law­makers re­turn next month.

Here’s a look at what top Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats in both cham­bers have been up to since they left town earli­er this month.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev.

Not hav­ing to worry about reelec­tion this re­cess, Re­id head­lined a pair of en­vir­on­ment-fo­cused con­fer­ences this sum­mer, in­clud­ing one at Lake Tahoe along with former Vice Pres­id­ent Al Gore. He’s giv­en in­ter­views to Nevada-based news or­gan­iz­a­tions and grabbed head­lines around the coun­try for ex­press­ing his opin­ion on base­ball. The Base­ball Hall of Fame, Re­id said, should end a ban on dis­graced slug­ger and former Cin­cin­nati Reds man­ager Pete Rose and let him enter the hall. While tout­ing the be­ne­fits of a green eco­nomy, Re­id also at­ten­ded fun­draisers in Las Ve­gas, the Las Ve­gas Sun re­por­ted.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky.

The Re­pub­lic­an lead­er faces threats from both ends of the polit­ic­al spec­trum and has been in Ken­tucky, at­tend­ing events and de­flect­ing his im­age as a Wash­ing­ton in­sider. His likely Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger in 2014, Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes, is earn­ing pos­it­ive cov­er­age in the Ken­tucky press after a halt­ing start to her cam­paign, and tea-party chal­lenger Matt Bev­in has been slam­ming Mc­Con­nell for his luke­warm re­sponse to a con­ser­vat­ive ef­fort to make de­fund­ing Obama­care a con­di­tion of keep­ing the gov­ern­ment run­ning. Mc­Con­nell’s cam­paign hit a speed bump when a re­cord­ing sur­faced this sum­mer in which cam­paign man­ager Jesse Benton, whose Janu­ary con­ver­sa­tion had been secretly re­cor­ded, said he was “hold­ing my nose” while work­ing for Mc­Con­nell, ac­cord­ing to the Louis­ville Cour­i­er-Journ­al. But Mc­Con­nell seemed to take it in stride, pos­ing for a photo with Benton. In the pic­ture, Benton holds his nose and a smil­ing Mc­Con­nell, arm flung around Benton, is point­ing at the aide.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

The as­sist­ant ma­jor­ity lead­er riled con­ser­vat­ives this sum­mer with a series of let­ters con­cern­ing “stand your ground” laws. Durbin wrote or­gan­iz­a­tions ask­ing them to dis­close wheth­er they were mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an Le­gis­lat­ive Ex­change Coun­cil, a self-de­scribed think tank that helped au­thor such laws, and wheth­er those or­gan­iz­a­tions backed the laws. Con­ser­vat­ives com­plain that the let­ters amount to polit­ic­al in­tim­id­a­tion. The Chica­go Tribune sug­ges­ted Durbin was com­pil­ing an “en­emies list.” Durbin said the pa­per and his de­tract­ors were wrong and that he is con­cerned with a lack of trans­par­ency sur­round­ing the is­sue. He plans to hold a hear­ing on the laws in Septem­ber.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas

Run­ning for reelec­tion next year, Cornyn at­ten­ded meet­ings in “every area of Texas” and met with 260,000 res­id­ents, ac­cord­ing to the Dal­las Morn­ing News. Des­pite this and the fact that Texas is a re­li­ably Re­pub­lic­an strong­hold, Cornyn be­came a polit­ic­al tar­get briefly this sum­mer when he irked the con­ser­vat­ive group Freedom­Works. Cornyn de­clined an in­vit­a­tion to an event, and in his place, the group fea­tured a card­board cutout of the state’s seni­or sen­at­or, ac­cord­ing to re­ports. Cornyn has a con­ser­vat­ive vot­ing re­cord, but as Sen. Ted Cruz demon­strated when he beat es­tab­lish­ment in­cum­bent Lt. Gov. Dav­id Dewhurst in last cycle’s GOP primary, that’s not al­ways enough to fend off the party’s more con­ser­vat­ive wing.

House Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio

The 12-term con­gress­man waded in­to the in­tern­al GOP de­bate over wheth­er to use the threat of a pos­sible gov­ern­ment shut­down as a meth­od to re­peal Obama­care this month. Boehner re­minded Re­pub­lic­ans in a con­fer­ence call, Re­u­ters re­por­ted, of the poor out­come for the GOP after the shut­down in the ‘90s. Some law­makers, like Ok­lahoma’s Tom Cole, sided with Boehner, but oth­ers like Tim Huel­skamp of Kan­sas dis­agreed with the speak­er and poin­ted to a di­vide in the party, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. Part of Boehner’s sum­mer agenda has been help­ing raise money for col­leagues. He at­ten­ded a fun­draiser for Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who is the tar­get of a tur­bocharged primary chal­lenger, ac­cord­ing to The Ore­go­ni­an. Bry­an Smith has won the back­ing of the Club for Growth, an in­flu­en­tial con­ser­vat­ive group. But Au­gust has not been all strategy and fun­drais­ing for the speak­er. Earli­er this month, he played golf with Don­ald Trump and Ari Emanuel (broth­er of Rahm, the former White House chief of staff and cur­rent Chica­go may­or) in Bed­min­ster, N.J., ac­cord­ing to the Clev­e­land Plain Deal­er. “We had a good time,” Trump said, ac­cord­ing to the pa­per. “He played well, I played well, we all played well.”

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal­if.

The Demo­crat­ic lead­er traveled to Mas­sachu­setts on Fri­day to at­tend an event on wo­men and eco­nom­ic is­sues with Rep. John Tier­ney, D-Mass. The East Coast swing was part of a Demo­crat­ic push to fo­cus on an agenda called “When Wo­men Suc­ceed, Amer­ica Suc­ceeds, The Bo­ston Globe re­por­ted. Pelosi at­ten­ded the event des­pite the pos­sib­il­ity that an eth­ics in­vest­ig­a­tion could be opened against Tier­ney. Pelosi at­ten­ded a sim­il­ar event, also fo­cused on wo­men, in Al­buquerque, N.M., with Rep. Michelle Lu­jan Grisham, D-N.M.

House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, R-Va.

Can­tor, along with Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., spoke at an ex­clus­ive and private con­ser­vat­ive event hos­ted by the Koch broth­ers near Al­buquerque, N.M., ac­cord­ing to re­ports. Dis­cus­sion touched on Mc­Con­nell’s GOP primary, as well as that of Sen. Mike En­zi, R-Wyo., Politico re­por­ted. Can­tor, like Boehner, also shared his view on the com­ing de­bate over how to fund the gov­ern­ment. Can­tor sug­ges­ted that the gam­bit, backed in the Sen­ate by Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla, among oth­ers, would likely fail. “In or­der to avoid a gov­ern­ment shut­down, we need 60 votes in the Sen­ate and 218 votes in the House to pass a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion,” he ex­plained. “To get 60 votes in the Sen­ate, you need at least 14 Demo­crats to join Re­pub­lic­ans and pass a CR that de­funds Obama­care. Right now, I am not aware of a single Demo­crat in the Sen­ate who would join us. If and when de­fund­ing has 60 votes in the Sen­ate, we will ab­so­lutely de­liv­er more than 218 votes in the House,” Can­tor said, ac­cord­ing to Na­tion­al Re­view. Can­tor also led a 28-mem­ber del­eg­a­tion to Is­rael earli­er this month, meet­ing with Is­raeli Pres­id­ent Shi­mon Peres.

Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er, D-Md.

Hoy­er spoke Sat­urday at the rally pre­ced­ing the “Na­tion­al Ac­tion to Real­ize the Dream March” to com­mem­or­ate Mar­tin Luth­er King Jr.’s March on Wash­ing­ton. Hoy­er also led a group of 37 Demo­crat­ic law­makers to Is­rael and the West Bank, ac­cord­ing to the South­ern Mary­land News.


What We're Following See More »
WHAT WILL PASS?
McConnell Doubts Criminal Justice Reform Can Pass This Year
4 minutes ago
THE LATEST
ALSO FIRED UNATTRACTIVE WAITRESSES
Trump Did Business with Cuba
45 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Today in bad news for Donald Trump:

  • Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
POST-DEBATE SURVEYS
Clinton Holds Lead in Five Battlegrounds
57 minutes ago
THE LATEST

In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.

Source:
TIME TO SPLIT
House Passes CR, Sends Bill to President’s Desk
13 hours ago
THE LATEST
CAN’T NAME ONE WORLD LEADER
Gary Johnson Stumbles Again
14 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
×