Senate cancels recess in light of ongoing debt negotiations
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that he was keeping members in Washington next week instead of breaking for the July 4 recess to continue ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. GOP senators were none too pleased about the move, and it remains to be seen what the body can actually get done.
"I think the challenge here is that these negotiations on a budget deal involve very few people," says Hawkings. "It involves a handful of members, while 525 or 530 other members essentially waiting around for the president and Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner and a few others to tell them what they're going to asked to vote for or oppose."
Many of the senators were angry, Hawkings adds, and GOP lawmakers are planning to show their displeasure by teaming up against an unrelated measure expected to come to the Senate floor Tuesday. "Republicans are likely going to vote as a block against the coming debate on Tuesday over Libya," Hawkings says. "Sen. Reid wants to make Tuesday night the opening vote on the debate over authorizing the President's Libya mission, and most Republicans if not all Republicans will try and stop that."
Reaction to President's press conference
President Obama took Congress to task during a press conference Wednesday, criticizing members, especially Republicans over how they've handled some of the debt negotiations. Republicans didn't react all that well to the president's tough talk, however, and Hawkings points out that the move may have just driven the wedge further between Democrats and Republicans.
"Beating up Congress is something that every modern president has done. It works in the public’s eye," Hawkings says. "But it really doesn't help them get any closer to a deal.
"The President is calculating that both sides had drifted apart, and pushing them further apart was an acceptable strategy," he adds. "They were angry, they felt condescended to, and they felt it was disingenuous, especially since they knew that the President was headed out of town the next day for a fundraiser," he adds.
House may push through spending bills
While the Senate battles it out over the debt ceiling, it's possible the House Republicans will attempt to work on one of the routine spending bills next week. The move could be all for naught, though, according to Hawkins, because debt ceiling negotiations will likely have an effect on any future spending.
"It's almost a partial waste of time, because if there is a budget deal, it will presumably require cuts to those spending bills, and they'll have to be revisited in the fall," Hawkings says.
House members are facing the possibility that their July 18 recess will be cancelled, because that week will likely prove to be "a crucial week in budget negotiations," he adds.