Republicans pushed to cancel the Senate's August recess — then skipped town

  • Several Republican senators did not attend any votes this week for the first working days of the cancelled August recess. Two Democrats also did not attend any votes.
  • Some of the senators who did not return to Washington were among the group that urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the annual four-week break.

WASHINGTON – During their first week back to work for the Senate’s cancelled August recess, several Republicans did not show up to vote or conduct business, despite pushing for the extra working days.

A total of seven Republicans did not attend a single vote this week, excluding Arizona Sen. John McCain who has been absent for the year due to his illness.

The senators who did not return to Washington for the cancelled recess were Marco Rubio of Florida, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. In addition, Democrats Patty Murray and Minority Whip Dick Durbin were not present for any votes.

A spokesperson for Lee told Business Insider he would return the following week to work on appropriations bills. Sen. Rubio’s spokesperson told Business Insider that “since he wasn’t a deciding vote, he stayed in Florida to get his kids ready for school.”

Alexander spokesman Taylor Haulsee said in an email that the senator “was out of the country on a long standing family obligation and assured the leadership that he would return if his vote was decisive, which it wasn’t.”

Inhofe spokeswoman Leacy Burke told Business Insider that he did not return to Washington due to a death in the family.

Spokespeople for the rest of the senators did not respond to inquiries as to why they were absent.

Tillis and Lee both signed a letter in June asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the annual four-week break during August, citing a need to hammer out the must-pass government funding bills.

“Please be assured that our request is fully backed by our commitment to thoughtfully and diligently work through these issues,” the letter read. “We simply recognise that making America great again requires a certain time commitment. Delivering meaningful results was never assumed to be easy, but the millions of Americans who placed their confidence in our leadership expect our full and best effort.”

The poor attendance even prompted McConnell to excoriate his fellow Republicans during their weekly policy lunch on Thursday, The Hill reported.

Cancelling the August recess was widely viewed as a politically lucrative move by anchoring the crop of vulnerable red-state Democrats up for re-election in Washington, leaving free roam for the GOP challengers in their home states.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.