CEDAR RAPIDS — Just days after returning to Washington following the August congressional state work session, Sen. Joni Ernst is pressuring her leadership to cancel the Senate’s October recess in order to address a laundry list of priorities.
In addition to immediate needs, such as a relief package for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas — and Ernst anticipates a similar package if Hurricane Irma damage estimates are accurate — the Iowa Republican believes Congress needs to act on immigration, tax reform, the debt ceiling, health insurance, infrastructure and a new farm bill.
“I would tell you everything needs to be on the plate right now,” Ernst told reporters Thursday on her weekly conference call.
“We have so many issues right now that we can’t prioritize one over the other,” Ernst continued. “All of these committees need to continue working on them simultaneously. We need to get these things done.”
Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley have written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to encourage him to keep the Senate in session during the scheduled October state work period.
They called it an opportunity to live up to the promises Congress has made to the American people, including “rolling back burdensome regulations, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, modernizing our infrastructure, and reforming our outdated and uncompetitive tax code.”
Ernst joined a handful of senators earlier this summer to ask McConnell to keep senators in Washington during the August state work session. The 33 potential working days on the Senate calendar “does not appear to give us enough time to adequately address the issues that demand immediate attention,” they wrote.
McConnell did not take their advice.
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Although she deferred when asked if McConnell was in good standing as the GOP caucus leader, Ernst seemed frustrated by his decision to proceed with the August recess.
“Why we didn’t stay in August to continue working on these issues is beyond me,” she said. “I don’t see how we, as Congress, get work done if we aren’t physically in Washington going through the committee process, working on these issues and debating them on the floor.”
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