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 McConnellRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs Biden to deliver remarks in Philadelphia Tuesday on nationwide protests Senate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests 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 PaulDemocratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police Second senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks 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 TillisOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits Tillis campaign releases first general election TV ad emphasizing 'humble' roots 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 HoyerKey races to watch in Tuesday's primaries Overnight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in House scheduled to return for votes in late June 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.