Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Tuesday that the four-week August recess would be abbreviated to just one week, while the Senate would remain in session for the rest of the month. It is expected that the Senate will use this time to advance a backlog of judicial and executive branch nominations, as well as appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins in October. The scaling back of the recess follows last year’s cancellation of one week of the August recess, after initially proposing scrapping two weeks, in the wake of the failed healthcare reform negotiations. The Senate’s decision does not impact the House’s recess, which will still occur from July 27 through September 3.|
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded to McConnell’s announcement by calling for the Senate to use its time in August on healthcare reform legislation, and has separately requested that President Trump remain at the White House for the month rather than spending more time at one of his golf courses or hotel properties. Schumer has specifically requested that the Senate consider five Democratic-led healthcare proposals: expanding tax credits, broadening access to Medicare, creating a reinsurance program aimed at lowering premiums, tightening coverage for preexisting conditions, and lowering prescription drug costs.
Democrats are particularly concerned about the impact of cancelling the bulk of the recess as this is a prime opportunity for campaigning for the election, and Democrats have ten Senators facing re-election in states won by President Trump, while Republicans are only defending Dean Heller’s Nevada seat among states won by Hillary Clinton. By forcing the Senate to remain in session, these senators will be unable to campaign locally while their opponents will be able to do so. Schumer and McConnell are purportedly working on an agreement to allow for additional recess beyond the current week in August on the condition that Democrats do not stall or block the nominations of President Trump.
NAHU encourages all members to reach out to their federal legislators while they are back in district. While NAHU lobbies on behalf of agents and brokers on a daily basis, often the most important conversations come directly from constituents talking about what is happening to their friends, family, clients, and coworkers on a daily basis. And unlike meetings in Washington, D.C., which you’re able to do during our annual Capitol Conference, and which NAHU staff does regularly throughout the year, the summer recess and district work periods provide the opportunity for more informal and intimate conversations. As health insurance agents and brokers, you have an unparalleled window into what is happening all over your congressional district and state. Members of Congress want to hear from you as they consider the latest proposals for the healthcare industry.
If you or your chapter has not already scheduled a meeting with your member of Congress, we encourage you to do so! The first step is to reach out to your local chapter and ask if any meetings are already scheduled or in the works. If not, work with your chapter’s legislative chair and fellow members to get a meeting on the calendar! The best way to schedule a meeting with your member of Congress is to call their district office and speak with the scheduler.
To help you prepare for your meetings, we’ve compiled some helpful tips that may be useful for you during your meeting:
- When having a meeting with your member of Congress or a member of their staff, it is incredibly helpful when introducing yourself, to briefly explain the role and the value of a health insurance agent or broker. Members of Congress and their staffs are so busy; their days are filled with constituent meetings of all topics. Prior to walking into your meeting they could have been in a meeting about energy policy or immigration, so briefly stating who you are and what you do at the beginning of the meeting is essential.
- Everyone likes to be thanked for their work and that holds true for members of Congress. If your member has been supportive of our issues by introducing or co-sponsoring priority legislation, please be sure to thank them! If you have any questions about your member and if they’ve been supportive of agent and broker issues and if NAHU has a relationship with them, please let us know.
- On the housekeeping side, it is also important to limit the number of members attending each appointment. Too many people at a meeting can overwhelm the office and bury your message.
Once you schedule a meeting, please let us know by logging your appointment. In an effort to provide more support to NAHU members and chapters attending meetings with their member of Congress or their staff, we will be reaching out to those who have scheduled meetings with their representatives and providing them with customized talking points, specific to that member of Congress. Of course, we can only do this if you log your appointment.If you have any questions on the summer recess, please send us a message!