(WASHINGTON) — House Democrats protested a six-week recess that’s set to begin Friday, urging Speaker of the House John Boehner to reconsider allowing lawmakers to leave Washington for a final campaign blitz in their congressional districts.
Gathering on the steps of U.S. Capitol, Democratic representatives were “fired up” during the Friday morning photo opportunity — blaming the lack of productivity on Congressional Republicans.
“Democrats are prepared to stay until we get the job done,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “That’s what we’re elected to do.”
Since lawmakers began a summer recess on Aug. 3, they have met on a total of eight days for legislative business, and won’t return until Nov. 14, after the election.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., complained that it is “simply irresponsible” to recess now because there is outstanding legislation, such as a farm bill set to expire on Sept. 30, the Violence Against Women Act, and a Democratic bill to extend the middle-income tax cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000.
“Shame on them,” Hoyer said. “Shame on them for abandoning our farmers, our economy and families who need us to act.”
Chanting in unison, ‘Work, work, work!’ at times, dozens of Democrats rallied behind Pelosi and the other party leaders.
“This is personal,” Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., said. “People back home cannot understand the work ethic of this Congress. They don’t understand why we’re not staying here to get the job done.”
“Throughout the entire 112th Congress, the Republican majority in the House have put their own political interest ahead of the interests of the American people,” Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., said. “We see a continuation of that this week.”
At a news conference a short time later, Speaker Boehner deflected criticism aimed at the House GOP, and suggested House Democrats should blame Senate Democrats.
“When you think about the letter that [the House Democratic leadership] sent to me [Thursday] about us doing our work, how about the 40 jobs bills that are sitting in the United States Senate?” Boehner asked rhetorically. “The House is the only body to have passed a bill to stop all of the coming tax hikes. We have done our work. But here, Senate Democrats and a president — where is their responsibility? Where is their leadership? It just doesn’t exist.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Nia-Malika Henderson and David Mark, CNN Newswire
Jeanne Moos, CNN Newswire