McConnell under pressure to cancel recess over coronavirus

McConnell under pressure to cancel recess over coronavirus
© Greg Nash

A number of Republicans are urging congressional leadership to cancel the upcoming one-week recess so lawmakers can stay in Washington, D.C., and work to address the coronavirus outbreak.

Three GOP senators, in separate statements, called on Congress to stay in town to put together a package amid growing concerns about the widespread outbreak that has roiled the economy. 

“Due to the need to work on additional efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate should cancel its recess and remain in session next week,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Trump, Dems close in on deal MORE (R-Maine) tweeted. 

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Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate leaving DC until April 20 after coronavirus stimulus vote Senate GOP super PAC books more than million in fall ads MORE (R-N.C.) added that “Congress needs to cancel its recess and stay in session so we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to address the coronavirus pandemic.”

 

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Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHouse Republican urges Pompeo to take steps to limit misinformation from China on coronavirus How much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (R-Neb.) issued a similar call.

“The Senate ought to keep working on the people’s business — both addressing the obvious deficiencies in our diagnostic testing pipeline, and debating the President’s call last night for economic legislation. The Senate has work to do, let’s get to it,” he said in a statement.

The calls for McConnell to cancel the break comes as senators are preparing to leave Washington as soon as Thursday for a one-week break. 

The House is poised to vote on a new coronavirus package on Thursday. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) is still negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over potential changes to the language. 

McConnell has largely deferred the negotiations with Democrats to Mnuchin, signaling he could support something if the White House is on board. 

But he panned the House bill as originally drafted, suggesting that it could not pass the Senate. 

“Unfortunately, it appears at this hour that the Speaker and House Democrats instead chose to produce an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances," McConnell said. 

The calls to cancel the recess comes amid growing anxiety about the coronavirus within the Capitol.

New restrictions are set to go into effect later Thursday that will limit public access to the building.