Politics

Senate’s Out for Truncated August Recess

Judicial nominations and spending bills await when senators return in mid-August

Senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, left the Capitol on Wednesday for a short August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators may be skipping the traditional August recess, but that does not mean they will be spending too much time on Capitol Hill.

Just before the Senate adjourned shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado had the responsibility of getting several district judges confirmed, passing remaining legislative items and — perhaps most importantly — announcing the schedule.

The Senate will hold brief pro forma sessions only until Wednesday, Aug. 15. Those sessions, which are not designed to include legislative business, prevent President Donald Trump from making recess appointments.

When the Senate returns on Aug. 15, senators will hold the caucus lunches that typically take place on Tuesdays. But they won’t be voting until 5:30 p.m. (meaning it might feel more like a Monday).

The first roll call vote will be on a motion made earlier Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to limit debate on the nomination of A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

After the Quattlebaum vote, the Senate will turn to another 4th Circuit pick, Julius Ness “Jay” Richardson. Both nominees are from South Carolina.

The Palmetto State’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, has praised Trump for making the two nominations.

“I really appreciate President Trump nominating two highly qualified South Carolinians to serve on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Marvin Quattlebaum and Jay Richardson are solid conservatives who are highly respected by the South Carolina legal community,” Graham said in an April statement. “They will be great additions to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

If the two appellate judicial nominees are confirmed, it would bring the total moved through the Senate during the Trump administration to 26.

The rest of the agenda for the truncated mid-August workweek is scheduled to feature senators getting the wheels turning on the next package of fiscal 2019 spending measures.

Senate appropriators intend to combine the defense spending bill with the often-controversial bill that funds Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education as part of that package.

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