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Senate GOP leader delays start of August recess, pushing senators to get to work

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell listens during a meeting with President Donald Trump on June 6, 2017 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. McConnell has decided to delay the start of the traditional August congressional recess. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he will delay the start of the traditional August recess as Republicans have made scant progress on President Donald Trump’s agenda, including the GOP’s stalled Obamacare repeal.

It may — or may not — be a bluff.

Senate leaders have been known to threaten to carve into senators’ weekends and holidays to nudge them to quit being so, well, senatorial and deliberative, and act.

That has certainly been the strategy as GOP leaders announced a planned vote next week on the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act, even though the revised bill remains a work in progress and new Republican opposition surfaced over the recent Fourth of July break.

By sticking around Washington, the Senate at least could give voters back home the impression that Congress is hard at work and save members from having to face what have been rowdy town halls.

But the announcement sent almost audible groans through the halls of Congress as members faced the prospect of spending the first three weeks of a hot August in Washington.

McConnell blamed the stalled agenda on Democrats, who have been blocking routine business.

But senators _ and much of the public — know the Republican majority’s own inability to resolve key differences on health policy, tax reform and other issues is also to blame.

One wing of the GOP, though, may be pleased. A group of 10 newer senators has been encouraging leaders to keep them in session to finish their work.

“We have this big agenda,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, at a news conference with other senators promoting the move earlier Tuesday. “What we’re running out of is time.”

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