By NEMS Daily Journal
The U.S. Senate’s cancellation of its week-long July 4 recess to work on resolving the gridlock over the federal debt limit increase has all the appearances of a serious attempt to make headway in resolving a potential default on government obligations. Aug. 3 is the drop-dead date set by the Treasury to borrow more and make payments.
Most Americans, of course, will return as usual to work on July 5, the day after Independence Day.
President Obama on Wednesday scolded the Senate and House for not working hard enough and at the right times to productively communicate with one another about reaching a deal on the fast-approaching deadline.
Senators were to spend the holiday week in their home states, which involves some constituent work but also some down time.
Of at least equal potential importance, Senate leaders from both parties invited the president to meet with them on Capitol Hill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked Obama to talk with Senate Republicans.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he has invited Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to meet with the entire Senate Democratic caucus Wednesday. A similar meeting with the White House economic team, including National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, is planned for July 7.
Obama also chastised the two chambers for what The Washington Post reported as an “unusual on again-off again schedule that has ensured the House and Senate have staggered their work in Washington, making cross-chamber negotiations difficult. The Senate has met this week, while House members have been visiting their home districts. The reverse had been planned for next week.”
“(They) need to be here,” Obama said. “I’ve been here.”
One Senate veteran, Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, offered a candid and sarcastic appraisal of the recess cancellation to The Washington Post:
“I’m thrilled,” Mikulski said on Wednesday after Obama’s press conference. She was leaving a Democratic caucus meeting to discuss the chamber’s schedule. “I just thought: ‘How awful that I have to go to Maryland, be in parades, go over to the Eastern Shore, have lunch at Old Salty’s with my seafood. Oh, my God. Who would want to do that?’”
She added, “The question is not whether the Senate will be here – maybe we will or not – is the Senate actually going to get serious about doing things. To be here, while all we do is huff and puff and hope we can blow the deficit away is just posturing.”
Almost everyone can find agreement with her self-criticism of Congress.