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Analysis: House Lawmakers Vote To Forgo August Recess

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A bill to protect the United States from cyberattack and electrical espionage failed to pass the Senate this week. The bill would have affected a number of government agencies, contractors and other companies in the D.C. area. Meanwhile, the House voted against adjourning for the August recess.

David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with Matt McCleskey, host of WAMU's Morning Edition on the latest stories from Capitol Hill.

The opposition to the cybersecurity bill: "It was an interesting coalition of opponents," says Hawkings. "The most powerful opponent was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which persuaded many Republicans that even though the main provision of the bill,... which was to make federal cybersecurity standards voluntary, not mandatory, that even living up with those voluntary standards would've been too much of a burden on business and costing too much."

While both sides of the aisle agree there is a threat toward cybersecurity, is there a chance for compromise? "It's kinda hard to see a path toward compromise right now," says Hawkings. "In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, there is also this 'individual liberty'/Libertarian streak of opponents, people who fear that these cybersecurity standards would end up impinging on personal privacy and having a lot of data shared with the government that shouldn't be shared."

On why House members voted against adjourning for the August recess: "It was a stunt with a point. Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic Whip, he orchestrated this. He got every single Democrat to vote against going home. He was joined by one out of every three Republicans," says Hawkings. "Their point was: 'we shouldn't be going on vacation, we shouldn't be going home to our districts, we sure shouldn't be going to the Democratic and Republican politician conventions when their so much left undone — Cybersecurity Bill, Postal Service Overhaul, Farm Bill, Drought Relief Bill.'"

What it means to have lawmakers work through August on Capitol Hill: "The practical effect of this is zero. All it means is that every three days, the House will have to open the doors, go through some formalities," says Hawkings. "Some lawmakers from our area won't be able to have too much of a vacation because they will have to come back and bang the gavel."

As lawmakers head home or to the campaign trial, what action will this area see? "If you watch TV or listen to commercial radio, you'll hear many, many more ads. Virginia is what Florida was in 2000, what Ohio was in 2004," says Hawkings. "[Virginia has] the hottest Senate race in the county, [and is] the locus of the presidential race. If you think August is bad, just wait until September, October, November, the ad volume will only get worse."

On whether retail campaigning should be expected in the next few weeks:"Absolutely. Members from Congress who are running for re-election are eager to get home," says Hawkings. " They know Congress' approval rating is generally terrible and they want to remind people face-to-face at coffee shops, Metro stations, that Congress may stink, I'm still a good guy or good woman and you want to talk to me."

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