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Senate leaving DC until April 20 after coronavirus stimulus vote

Senate leaving DC until April 20 after coronavirus stimulus vote
© Greg Nash

The Senate will leave town after passing a coronavirus stimulus package and not return until April 20, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now MORE (R-Ky.) announced late Wednesday night.

The Senate unanimously passed a massive stimulus bill that costs approximately $2.2 trillion. McConnell announced shortly before it started that the Senate will not have its next roll call vote until April 20.

That means the Senate will cut next week’s scheduled session. After that, the senators were already scheduled to go on a two-week recess starting on March 31. That will keep the Senate out of town for a total of three weeks.

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“When the Senate adjourns this evening, our next scheduled vote will be the afternoon of Monday, April 20," McConnell said. "Of course, during this unprecedented time for our country, the Senate is going to stay nimble."

Senators had indicated that they expected the Senate to leave after they passed the massive stimulus bill amid growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus on Capitol Hill. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday became the first known case of a senator having the coronavirus, and several senators have self-quarantined because of exposure to an individual who tested positive. 

"My guess is we probably don't come in next week and then don't come in the two weeks we're scheduled" to be on recess, Blunt said, adding that they would "use those three weeks to get ready for whatever is phase four."

Asked about the schedule, Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.) said on Wednesday night “we’ll be back when we got to be back”

McConnell noted that the Senate could come back early as the country continues to grapple with the spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent economic downturn. 

“If circumstances require the Senate to return for a vote sooner than April 20, we will provide at least 24 hours notice," he said. "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

“Let’s stay connected and continue to collaborate on the best ways to keep helping our states and our country,” he added.

The change in the Senate schedule is the latest adjustment on Capitol Hill as fears of the coronavirus spreading have grown. The Capitol is currently closed to tour groups through the end of March, and entry to the office buildings is limited to lawmakers, staff, reporters or official visits. 
 
The House left last week without a fixed return date. The House will try to pass the massive stimulus bill by a voice vote on Friday, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Key Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission MORE (D-Md.) announced Wednesday night
 
That would let most House members avoid having to get on planes to travel back to Washington. 
 
Updated at 12:26 a.m.