WASHINGTON — Sen. David Vitter, R-La., joined nine other Republican colleagues Wednesday in calling for the Senate to remain in session during next week’s Fourth of July recess.
The group is objecting to the behind-closed-door negotiation process over the national debt and federal budget that is being carried out by Vice President Joe Biden and leaders of both chambers.
Vitter chided negotiators, saying that the debate over the debt and budget should be on the Senate floor rather than having members vote on it in a hurried fashion when the secret talks are completed.
“Negotiations behind closed doors and then two days of debate at the 11th hour or 12th hour or 13th hour isn’t good enough,” Vitter said. “That’s part of what’s broken in Washington.”
Both the House and Senate must vote on resolutions to go into recess.
The procedural moves involved to meet the Vitter group’s goal are varied but in the end, Democrats would likely try to force a vote on the resolution, which would need 51 senators to back it. Democrats hold the chamber, 53-47.
Democrats huddled Wednesday night to determine whether they would return next week and forego their week off.
Several senators exiting the meeting said they believe they will be in session though nothing was official.
In a news conference, President Barack Obama scolded Congress members for not working through their recess because of the debt crisis.
The White House has said that the matter has to be resolved before Aug. 2 or the nation could begin defaulting on its loans. The House was off this week.
“You need to be here,” Obama said. “I’ve been here.”
In May, Vitter joined 19 colleagues in getting the House to oppose passing the Senate’s adjournment resolution in order to block recess appointments by Obama.
That was a pro forma session to meet the constitutional requirement and merely required that one member appear in the chamber once every three days. Vitter and company are opposing holding a pro forma session this time.
“What we’re demanding is let’s stay here next week, let’s not recess and not even have a pro forma session, let’s work” Vitter said.
Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, joined 87 House colleagues last week in calling on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to move to block the Senate adjournment resolution.
“Let’s not be here just to be here but be on the floor debating in a constructive way the biggest challenge our country faces, which is spending and debt,” Vitter said.