Washington’s manic week has come to a quick close as both chambers are now recessed until after the July 4th holiday. The final action in the Senate saw the approval of a farm bill (H.R. 2) that lacks controversial work requirements included in the House version —likely setting up a contentious conference process later this summer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that the Senate will consider judicial nominations when they return on Monday, July 9.
For the House, the week’s wrap up included passage of a defense appropriations bill on a 359-49 bipartisan vote and approval of a more contentious resolution charging that the Department of Justice “fully comply” with congressional subpoenas. That resolution — which is largely in response to Republicans’ criticism of the Justice Department in relation to Robert Mueller’s investigation — passed on a strict party-line vote, 226-183. The House is due to return on Tuesday, July 10, although their floor schedule for that week is less clear.
With recess coming next week, Washington will likely be taking stock of all the significant, and possibly lasting, political and policy developments that have emerged over the past few days. At the top of the list is Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, which will not only trigger a hugely contested confirmation battle, but a re-thinking of what legal battles lie ahead if the Court takes an anticipated turn to towards the ideological right. On the political front, Democratic leaders have been quick to downplay the importance of Rep. Joe Crowley’s primary defeat Tuesday night, but there is little doubt that the victory for self-avowed Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez will raise fresh questions about the party’s strategy — and maybe even its ideology — in the run-up to this fall’s critical midterm elections. And finally, while it may be overlooked in the context of Washington gridlock, the overwhelming failure of House Republicans’ “compromise” immigration bill this week has demonstrated again that Congress is struggling to find a path forward on the defining issue of 2018 so far — a lasting solution for the nation’s immigration system and the Dreamers.