Just before the jailbreak that was the House of Representatives sprinting out of the Capitol and to the airports Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were willing to stick around.
“It’s unfortunate, but I wish that we could stay,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said at her weekly press conference. “Our members are prepared to stay and work.”
Pelosi had plenty of parting shots for House Republicans as they prepared for the five-week August recess, accusing the majority's leaders of running a “chaotic” and “aimless” Congress this past year. The House held one last vote to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law — the 40th attempt— to close out the work week.
Some Republicans have called for Congress to continue to work. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., has for weeks been asking colleagues to remain in session, to no avail.
The summer recess, while often mocked, is intended to allow lawmakers to hear from constituents back in their districts. The difference this year, Pelosi said, is that Congress is leaving with a lot left to do.
In the final weeks before Congress took off, the House failed to pass a Farm Bill, punted on immigration reform until after the recess, and at the last minute pulled a transportation funding bill when it became clear there weren’t enough votes for it to pass. A budget battle to fund government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit looms at the other end of the recess.
“Republicans have not done their work leading up to the break,” Pelosi said. “If their work that they want to get done is nothing, then they’re right on schedule.”
House Republicans are sure to disagree with Pelosi’s characterizations. And there’s a Democratic Senate on the other end of the hall that also helped dictate Congress’ glacial pace, and a Democrat in the White House down the street.
But according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, Americans are far more dissatisfied by Republicans than the president. Nearly three in four of those surveyed disapproved of how Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs, Also, 45 percent trust Obama to handle the economy compared to 39 percent who say congressional Republicans are better suited.
Pelosi was pessimistic that much is going to change after the break. For example, the latest version of the Republican farm bill would double food stamp cuts to $40 billion and that “probably ensures that there will not be a farm bill, which would be most unfortunate,” Pelosi said.
“They do not want to work in a bipartisan way, which is the only way that we can get this budget issue resolved,” Pelosi said.