House votes against adjourning for recess

Aug. 3, 2012 at 8:16 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. House voted against adjourning for its August recess, with members citing the need to act on a farm bill among other things.

In the 150-265 vote Thursday, Democrats were joined by 78 Republicans in voting against adjournment, meaning the House and Senate can be expected to conduct pro forma sessions during the August recess, The Hill reported.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told The Hill that by remaining in session, he anticipates being able to report a farm bill out of his committee in the coming weeks.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he told Republicans who voted against adjournment they are expected to manage the pro forma sessions during the break.

One Republican representative said the GOP leadership wasn't angry with colleagues who voted against adjournment but was frustrated by the lack of consistent justification for their votes.

"The rationale for doing it was all over the place," Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, told The Hill.

After the vote, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cited the farm bill and other issues, such as middle class tax relief, as reasons why Democrats voted against adjourning.

"The Republican majority is prepared to adjourn the House of Representatives to leave for the August district work period without accomplishing what the American people have sent us here to do," she said. "They want us to create jobs. They want us to reduce the deficit. And they want us to do a middle-income tax cut, which the president has suggested and the American people overwhelmingly support."

"Instead, we have no jobs agenda, no tax cuts for the middle class, no farm bill, no Violence against Women Act, no cybersecurity strategy," she said.

Some Republicans told The Hill they voted against adjournment to deny Democrats the talking point that the House wasn't working in August, while others voted against adjourning to deny President Obama an opportunity to make recess appointments.

Under the Constitution, neither congressional chamber can go on an official recess without the consent of the other, The Hill said. Without consent, pro forma sessions are usually conducted every few days in which the chamber meets but no work is conducted.

The Senate approved the adjournment resolution earlier Thursday.

One effort to provide emergency aid for ranchers and farmers trying to recover from a year of weather-related misfortunes fell apart Thursday, The New York Times reported.

After refusing to consider a five-year farm measure, the Republican-led House voted 223-197 on a short-term, $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers.

Democratic leaders in the Senate, which passed a bipartisan five-year bill, refused to consider the House measure.

The farm bill wasn't the only measure that failed to pass before the August recess. On Thursday, Senate Republicans used a filibuster to block bipartisan cybersecurity bill that would have set standards for computer systems overseeing the country's critical infrastructure.

Also stalled was the renewal of a measure to protect women from domestic violence as were routine spending bills and tax measures, the Times said.

"It's not only the failure to take on the biggest single threat to our country right now, that of cyberattacks," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, , a co-author of the cybersecurity bill. "Or to complete the farm bill. But also, we've yet to pass a single appropriations bill. Tax issues remain completely unresolved, as well. I think it's really disappointing."

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