No recess for U.S. Senate: McConnell announces the Upper Chamber will stay and address COVID-19
The Senate nixed a recess scheduled for next week to act on coronavirus legislation, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced late Thursday.
“Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week. I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi,” the Kentucky Republican wrote. “I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”
The Senate was scheduled to be on recess for two weeks beginning Friday to allow members to attend to matters in their home district, but McConnell stressed coronavirus legislation would take precedence.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said the upper chamber would not consider the coronavirus legislation until after next week's recess. “The Senate will act when we come back, and we have a clearer idea of what extra steps we need to take," he told CNN.
The House is preparing to vote late Thursday on the legislative package meant to respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus threat. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's suggestion that the House cancel its scheduled recess next week to hash out their differences in the legislation.
"We don't need 48 hours. We need to just make a decision to help families right now," Pelosi said during her weekly news conference on Thursday. "We are responding to their concerns, we don't want them moving the goalposts, and that's it."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wound not agree to cancel the chambers recess next week after getting GOP blow-back on such irrelevant items as abortion funding in the COVID-19 economic relief bill up for a vote today. (Photo: ABC News)
The California Democrat added, "I'm not sticking around because they don't want to agree to language."
Earlier Thursday, McConnell applauded Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Trump administration for "engaging in bipartisan talks" with Pelosi.
"Following the billions in health funding we approved last week, the Senate is ready and eager to consider bipartisan policies to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus," McConnell said in a tweet thread.
"Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s first draft from late last night was off-base. It does not focus immediate relief on affected Americans. It proposes new bureaucracy that would only delay assistance. It wanders into policy areas that are not related to the pressing issues at hand," the Kentucky Republican added.
"Fortunately, we do not need to choose between Speaker Pelosi’s first draft and doing nothing. I am glad the Administration is continuing talks. The Senate is ready to consider a bipartisan, bicameral package if House Democrats return to the table & work with the President's team."
The U.S. Capitol and its associated office buildings are being closed to the general public until April 1, and several senators have implemented work-from-home policies for their staff members.
Senators cannot cast votes from home, though there is legislation in the works to change that policy.