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For as little as Congress did in the days leading up to recess, lawmakers certainly are planning a packed time at home, hustling from issue summits to town halls, photo ops and state fairs.
Non-campaign-year August breaks tend to be less aggressively frenetic than those in years that end in even numbers, with members keeping a busy schedule while at least trying to appear less overtly political. But there will be certain policy areas highlighted, especially economic ones, though many will look to see how constituents react to events about an immigration overhaul scattered throughout the country and calendar.
Want to know what House and Senate leaders are doing this break? CQ Roll Call’s got your roundup:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., likely has the most “summits” on his schedule, with two. On Aug. 13, Reid will co-host the annual Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz will speak. Then, on Aug. 19, he will travel to Lake Tahoe (his office points out on the Nevada side) for the annual Lake Tahoe summit. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and California Gov. Jerry Brown are also expected to attend.
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., for example, plans to do more events at home like the one he held in Iowa last Wednesday with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, about the DREAM Act and immigration overhaul. Durbin, like many other senators and representatives, also will make an appearance at his state’s fair.
Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., is holding an event Friday at the site of a Seattle defense contracting company to highlight the impacts of the sequester. Her spokesman said the event was planned on a Friday specifically because Fridays are the days now missed by many civilian defense workers because of furloughs resulting from the across-the-board cuts. She will appear with furloughed workers, using the budget she passed out of her committee earlier this summer as the framework for her talk. Murray’s spokesman also said she would get an update from state officials on the implementation of the health care law in Washington, in addition to other events.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already made a few headlines this recess by tying his Democratic opponent’s father to embattled New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (because Jerry Lundergan cut Weiner a fat check). A McConnell spokesman said the senator would do a series of constituent group meetings, Chamber of Commerce lunches and town hall meetings at hospitals — of which he has already done about 50, according to the staffer. McConnell is in-cycle and now has opponents from his left and right, so he should be interesting to watch.
Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Republican Conference, will be participating in town halls and fairs, hold an aviation round table in Sioux Falls and travel on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. And he has a bonus — his daughter is getting married.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will host his agricultural advisory lunch at the annual state fair in Missouri, where we only can assume there will be lots of fried things served.
On the House side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has a full plate. In her home district, she’ll be holding a forum on implementation of the 2010 health care law, and then she’ll go on to participate in fundraising events in Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Nevada, California and Massachusetts. On Aug. 14, she’ll be addressing the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union convention in Chicago, and later in the month she’ll be participating in the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington.
A spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., reported that the congressman was currently on a trip to Israel and the West Bank “to learn more about issues critical to the U.S.-Israel relationship and international security.” He is among 37 House Democrats participating in the program, organized by the American Israel Education Foundation. Hoyer also will travel to California to fundraise for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline members.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also is going to Israel, according to his office, in addition to doing events in his district and campaigning for members.