- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 24, 2016

The House canceled all business for this week because of the snowstorm, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Sunday as the disruption of official Washington business looked to continue for some time.

The State Department has blamed the storm for delays in finishing the release of former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails. The final batch is due at the end of this week, but on Friday, before the full fury of the storm was realized, the department asked a federal judge for a month’s delay.

That delay would push the final email release — which is expected to include emails with high classification levels — to the end of February, after the first four states have voted in the Democratic presidential primary.

House lawmakers, who were on a weeklong recess last week, were expected to be in session Monday through Wednesday this week, then off Thursday and Friday so Democrats could hold a retreat. But Mr. McCarthy’s office said business is canceled through Wednesday because of the storm.

Area airports were shut down Sunday, and returning to normal business is likely to take days. That means some lawmakers will struggle to get back to Washington.

The House was slated to vote to override President Obama’s veto of a bill repealing key parts of his signature health care act, but that vote has now been pushed into February, as has a vote on an Iran sanctions bill.

The Senate, which was slated to convene Tuesday, has pushed back its first votes of the week until Wednesday evening.

Washington doesn’t always shut down for snowstorms. In 2009, Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat and Senate majority leader at the time, forced a weekend session in the middle of a storm to get the clock ticking on passage of Obamacare.

That storm shut down the region’s subway system, but Mr. Reid, intent on getting the Affordable Care Act passed before Christmas, kept his troops at the Capitol. The bill cleared on Christmas Eve.

This year, with Capitol Hill leaders and Mr. Obama at odds on nearly every issue, little pressing business is likely to get accomplished, and all sides are looking ahead to the November elections.

On that score, Mrs. Clinton may catch a break if U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras accepts the State Department’s request.

The last set of thousands of emails was slated to be released Jan. 29. It is the largest release yet and will complete production of more than 30,000 messages Mrs. Clinton sent on the email account tied to a server at her home in New York.

The release is likely to contain some of the most troublesome emails for Mrs. Clinton. Hundreds of her messages are deemed to contain classified information that officials say should have been sent only on a State.gov account.

On Friday, as the snowstorm was gearing up, the Obama administration requested a delay on behalf of the State Department, saying screeners were planning on working throughout the weekend but would no longer be able to do so because of the weather.

The State Department also acknowledged that it belatedly realized this month that it had a whole set of documents that other agencies needed to clear, but which officials never sent for review.

The department blamed Judge Contreras’s strict schedule.

“State overlooked some necessary consultations at a time when the Clinton email team’s efforts were focused on processing records that had already gone through interagency consultation in order to meet the monthly interim goals set in the scheduling order,” the administration said in its court filing. “Thus, this oversight was not detected until the push to meet the final deadline.”

The State Department said it has sent some of the documents to other agencies, but the storm disrupted that process, too.

The department said it hopes to have them delivered and returned, cleared, in order to be released Feb. 29.

That would mean the first four states in the Democratic presidential primary calendar — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — would vote before the last and most controversial set of emails is made public.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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