Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is canceling most of the Senate's August recess.
He aims to confirm most of President Donald Trump's nominees and work toward passing a government funding bill.
"Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president's nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled," McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.
MCCONNELL: Well good afternoon everyone. As you may have heard, I've canceled the August recess. We have a lot of important work to do. As a result of unprecedented obstruction for example, we've had 100 closure votes in the first two years of this President.
Only 24 closure votes in the first two years of the last six Presidents on nominations. In addition to that, the President's made it quite clear he doesn't intend to sign another omnibus, and in order to prevent that obviously we should do our work, which is to pass individual appropriations bills.
Chairman Shelby and Senator Leahy I think have a very cooperative relationship in moving forward with that. We think we have a good chance of passing a number of appropriation bills. In order to do that and in order to deal with this nominations backlog, it's necessary for us to be here in August and to do our work.
In the short term, we are going to turn to the Defense Authorization Bill and the Farm Bill before the one week around July 4th. In addition to that, we're trying to get time agreements on the FAA Bill, on the Water Infrastructure Bill.
All of these we need to be trying to process between now and the July recess. So that's the schedule over the next few months.
CORNYN: Congress has passed the Defense Authorization Bill for the last 57 years, and without failure.
One of the most important provisions in this legislation beyond providing the resources and the training and the equipment that our military need in order to perform the job we've asked them to do is a major step to prevent China from stealing or otherwise circumventing our laws to acquire cutting edge technology that gives the United States a decided advantage when it comes to defending our country and keeping the peace.
This is a -- a bill that deals with the committee on foreign investment in the United States, and something we've been working together with Secretary Mnuchin, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense and others on -- Senator Perdue, Senator Scott, Senator Crapo and I will be going to the White House this afternoon to visit more with the President about this.
This is not a trade issue, this is a national security issue. It is directed at the most egregious offender of this process, which is China. And I believe that it's something that's very important in our national security, obviously came out of the Banking Committee with a unanimous vote, it was accepted into the Defense Authorization Bill and we'll be taking up and passing along with that bill by next week.
THUNE: The May Jobs Report I think highlighted the great progress we've made in getting the economy back on track. If you look at the numbers in that report, the unemployment rate was the lowest literally in 48 years, half a century to see the -- the kind of numbers that we're seeing today.
Wage growth fastest in 10 years and the time that someone is unemployed is the shortest since 2009. And if you look at what's happened since tax reform passed, we've created a million new jobs since the passage of tax reform and 3.6 million new jobs since this President took office.
Our pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker agenda is working for the American people and it doesn't happen by accident or happen by chance, it's because we have made a diligent effort to put policies in place that will help our economy grow and provide incentives for our businesses to expand.
And if you look at regulatory relief from some of the Obama era regulations, tax reform, you go right down the list as some of the reforms we passed just recently, the President signed the Dodd-Frank reforms into law, which will take a lot of pressure off our small businesses and -- and lenders out there to make more credit available in our economy.
And -- and we're going to keep right on going, whether it's judges or energy policy, right down the list because we think that staying focused on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda for the American people will continue to -- to yield positive results and benefits for them.
BARRASSO: In coming back from a week in Wyoming, you can see the positive results. People feel confident, they are optimistic about the economy and specifically about their own lives.
So when we have the unemployment rate at this 50 year low and consumer confidence at a 18 year high for the average family, what that means is you wake up the morning, for the person waking up in the morning they have the hope and the feelings that there's going to be a job, an opportunity.
We've seen their wages have been going up, so people have more money in their pockets for two reasons. One is the tax cuts and then the other is actually the wages that have gone up.
So we're going to continue to work on this, we have right now a strong, healthy and growing economy, and you do it by cutting taxes, getting rid of regulations and mandates that make it harder for people to have work.
Now people are having the opportunities, the freedom that comes from the tax cuts and the regulatory relief and we're going to continue to focus on families and their prosperity and their paychecks.
BLUNT: Well like a lot of my colleagues, I had -- I had media events all over the state last week talking about the economy, specifically talking about the tax bill. Families coming in and talking about what a difference $100 or $150 a month made to them.
Employers talking about the difficulty of finding people, but in at least three occasions people talking to me about people they had fired in the past and they reached out to them and said if you want a second chance, you've got the skills we need.
If you want to come back to work and we can -- we can take that second chance opportunity. The same with people who have skills who've served time in jail or served time in prison, but in the current unemployed pool have skills that employers are willing to take chances that they weren't taking before.
The economy is growing, the numbers are real and families are beginning to feel that.
MCCONNELL: Yeah? Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, come on Cory.
GARDNER: I'm just going to say that -- yeah I was just going to say that county fairgoers around the country are excited about the announcement Vice Senator McConnell today because the parade's just got a heck of a lot shorter, since we'll be in session in August.
But I wanted to just highlight the -- the fact that the work we've been doing on tax reform, regulatory reform, two reports just came out identifying Colorado's economy as one of the strongest states in economy in the nation, it's because of -- in part of the work that we've continued to do to get government out of the way, to get Washington out of the way and let Colorado work, to let America work.
A week from today, President Trump will be at a historic summit in Singapore. This Singapore summit will have the eyes of the world on it, as we have the possibility of peace on the peninsula. I hope this opportunity to build up to this summit is a bipartisan process, that we don't have partisan bickering trying to pick holes in the opportunity to denuclearize North Korea.
I attended the Singapore Shangri-La dialogue this past week, where we heard from over 40 defense ministers throughout the region, all who are keenly interested in what's going to happen a week from today in Singapore.
There, Secretary Mattis laid out his plan for U.S. leadership and the fact that we indeed will be pursuing a long-term denuclearized North Korea.
QUESTION: Last year, when you announced from the (inaudible), you made the announcement mid-July when we were here (inaudible) be here for four out of five weeks for an August vote, and make this announcement in early June.
Isn't this really a shot across the Democrats now to say look, we lead (ph) on some of these, we're going to clock (ph) the nominees and try to work on an agreement for two months to try to work some of this out?
MCCONNELL: Well I'm all for cooperation, but if you look at the amount of work that we have to do. It's inconceivable to me that we can't use these weeks, even with cooperation. We've got a lot of appropriation bills to -- to pass.
We've got this backlog of nominations, certainly we anticipate and hope to have less obstruction on those, but I've been hoping for that for quite some time and it hasn't occurred yet. Just to sum it up, I think we have enough work to do for the American people that we should be here during these weeks.
I hope we'll get greater cooperation, but everybody should anticipate that we will be here as I announced today.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) send the appropriations bills?
MCCONNELL: I'm not going to ask -- answer every hypothetical ...
QUESTION: ... there bills, though?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, they're interested in sending us bills, hopefully in many buses (ph), multiple bills at a time, that would certainly help us facilitate the passage.
QUESTION: A growing number of your Senate Republican colleagues are expressing support for this (inaudible) proposal, giving Congress (ph) the only authority it has over terrorists, especially through the -- with the national security justification. Do you support (inaudible)?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, here's the -- what I'm -- what I'm in favor of is getting bills passed that we have to do for the country. NDAA is certainly one of them, but it is open for amendment and we'll see what happens as it moves across the floor.
We've got to do the Farm Bill, we've got all those appropriation bills to do, not to mention all these nominations. So I am as contentious as that's likely to be. We'll see, but I'm not going to call it up free-standing. You're suggesting it might be offered as an amendment. NDAA's going to be opened, we'll see what amendments are offered.
QUESTION: Leader? Leader? Does the President have the power to pardon himself? Does the President have the power to pardon himself?
MCCONNELL: How much they're offering (ph) and on that issue.
QUESTION: Leader McConnell? This morning the President said that the Attorney General should not have recused himself from the Russia investigation, (inaudible) chosen another Attorney General. The question is can a new (ph) Attorney General on this Senate (inaudible)?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, look, I know what you all are interested in discussing. Let me just tell you that from -- from my perspective, I don't think the President needs any advice on pardoning himself. He obviously knows that would not be something that he would or should do.
They were having an academic discussion about whether it's possible. I don't know the answer to that.
With regard to Attorney General Sessions, as a former colleague of ours, I think he is very popular with our members, and I hope he'll remain in the job.