White House blasts House Republicans for vacation

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest arrives for the daily news briefing at the White House July 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Story highlights

  • White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest mocked House Republicans for "skipping town" earlier than expected
  • The President himself will be taking his own long vacation soon, an annual trip to Martha's Vineyard in August

(CNN)It's become a summer ritual in Washington: Take a shot at the opposing party for taking a longer vacation than yours.

But White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest brought the clockwork criticism to new heights Thursday, outright mocking House Republicans for "skipping town" earlier than expected.
"I do hope that Republicans will just rest and relax during their 39-day vacation, because when they do finally show up again in September, there won't be a lot of patience or a lot of sympathy that they don't have time to do their job," Earnest said at the White House daily briefing.
    To wit, the House of Representatives did adjourn one day earlier than expected for recess, on Wednesday rather than Thursday. And members will be gone for more than five weeks -- not to return in Washington until after Labor Day.
    And there is a lot of work left undone: the must-pass spending bills are stalled, and they were only able to pass a short-term patch for the highway bill. Earnest ticked through each one-by-one, chiding Congress for falling short in this work period.
    But the August work period typically is treated as somewhat sacred space and time for members of Congress, who view it as a period to get back to their hometowns to speak with their constituents.
    Many members also use the long period of time to travel on congressional delegations abroad. In August, groups of both Republicans and Democrats will be traveling to Israel. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already announced she will be leading a trip with many Democrats to Italy and Ukraine, focusing on security cooperation and NATO operations, and strengthened economic ties, according to her office.
    But Earnest mocked the "poorly named" August work period, saying it is a work period in name only, joking it is just a euphemism.
    "The description of the 'August Work Period' is the best of both worlds, because it extends beyond August and they're not actually working," he said.
    A spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner called Earnest's comments Thursday a "cheap shot" at Congress.
    "Our members will be home in their districts, helping their constituents and listening to their opinions on the big issues facing the country," spokesman Cory Fritz said following Earnest's remarks.
    The President himself will be taking his own long vacation soon, an annual trip to Martha's Vineyard in August which typically lasts about two weeks.
    The President may be less likely to personally criticize the annual tradition of members spending a long stretch of time away from Washington. He too, as a former senator, benefited from the period himself -- not only to enjoy the annual recess in Chicago, but to campaign for president.