Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to scrap the month-long August recess due to what he called the Democrats’ “historic obstruction” of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, could potentially deprive vulnerable incumbent Democrats running for re-election from crucial campaign time ahead of the midterm elections.
But Democrats say they are welcoming the change with a message to McConnell: Bring it on.
“We Democrats welcome this additional time because it gives us the opportunity to address an issue that's on the top of the minds of so many of the American people, and one that Republicans have badly mishandled at this point: health care,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.
Their plan, highlighted in a letter Schumer sent to McConnell on Wednesday, is to push for votes on legislation that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.
The shift to health care is a notable strategy Democrats are hoping to capitalize on as they gear up for November’s midterm elections – by reminding American voters that Republicans are “deliberately sabotaging” the health care system, as Schumer put it in his letter to McConnell.
“President Trump promised the American people health care that is “far less expensive and far better.” Unfortunately, today the situation is far worse,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “After 18 months of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deliberately sabotaging our health care system, Republican policies have resulted in major premium increases for millions of Americans. This sabotage also has those with pre-existing conditions once again facing the prospect of denied coverage, increased costs, and medical bankruptcy.”
Republicans have tried endlessly to the repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010. They were successful in repealing the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance after it was included in the GOP’s tax reform legislation that Trump signed into law in December.
But McConnell has signaled Republicans plan to spend August confirming Trump’s judicial and executive-level nominees and pass appropriation bills before the end of the fiscal year.
On Tuesday, McConnell hit Democrats for dragging their feet on confirming Trump’s nominees and said even if Democrats were to cooperate in the coming months, the Senate should expect to remain in Washington for most of August.
“Mitch McConnell can't have it both ways. He spends all his time bragging to his base that they've appointed more judges than anyone else, and now he's saying they haven't appointed enough. It just doesn't pass the laugh test,” Schumer said Tuesday.
Trump joined in on the attack on Democrats with a tweet on Tuesday: “Mitch McConnell announced he will cancel the Senate’s August Recess. Great, maybe the Democrats will finally get something done other than their acceptance of High Crime and High Taxes. We need Border Security!”
Schumer responded: “As usual the president's tweet makes little sense, given that Republicans control both houses of Congress. But I agree with the president on one thing: canceling recess is a great opportunity to get something done.”