Congress Won’t Return from Recess Before May 4

April 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
The U.S. Capitol. Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers will not return to Capitol Hill for regular legislative activity before May 4, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday.

“As the country continues working together to flatten the curve, following the advice of health experts, the full Senate is not expected to travel back to Washington D.C. sooner than Monday, May 4th,” McConnell said in a statement.

“All members will receive at least 24 hours’ notice if this changes,” he added.

The decision by McConnell comes a day after the House announced it also won’t be back until May, seeming to abandon a plan to reconvene on April 20 to work on a fourth economic stimulus bill.

However, in a letter to Democrats, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer held open the possibility that a fourth bill to respond to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak could still happen.

“If the House is required to take action on critical legislation related to the coronavirus response or other legislative priorities, members will be given sufficient notice to return to Washington D.C.,” Hoyer said.

The moves by the House and Senate extends the recess that began on March 12 to nearly two months.

In the meantime, there is still a chance the Republican-controlled Senate will attempt to unanimously pass a bill to put $250 billion more into a loan program for small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week a single Democrat was able to block the bill under rules that require a unanimous voice vote to pass legislation while a majority of members are out of town.

“President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, and Senate and House Republicans simply want to add more funding for this job-saving program that both parties designed together,” McConnell said Tuesday. “There is no time to insist on sweeping renegotiations or ultimatums about other policies that passed both houses unanimously. I hope our Democratic colleagues will let Congress act this week.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly told members during a Monday conference call that she didn’t believe McConnell would offer the kind of concessions necessary for Democratic support, and without that, he can’t possibly pass the measure without calling the entire Senate back for a roll call vote.

Despite setting the stage for a long absence from the Capitol, McConnell stressed that senators should plan to continue to work in their home states.

“The coronavirus does not take days off and the United States Senate must not either, wherever we are,” he said.

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