McConnell signals senators can head home until negotiators get a coronavirus deal
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that the Senate will technically be in session next week but signaled he’s letting senators leave Washington, D.C., until an agreement is reached on a fifth coronavirus relief package.
“I will not be adjourning the Senate for our August recess today as has been previously scheduled. I’ve told Republican senators they’ll have a 24-hour notice before a vote, but the Senate will be convening on Monday and I’ll be right here in Washington,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
The Senate was scheduled to start a four-week August break on Friday, not returning to Washington until early September.
But the slow pace of the coronavirus negotiations has thrown a curveball into that schedule. The White House and congressional Democrats have been said they want a deal this week, but there are few signs that they will be able to meet a self-imposed Friday deadline.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters after his latest meeting on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that they were still “trillions” apart on the price tag for a fifth bill.
McConnell, during an interview with CNBC, declined to say if they could get a deal by the Friday deadline but said he thought there would be one “at some point in the near future”
“Will we find a solution? We will. Will we have an agreement? We will,” Pelosi said during a separate interview with CNBC.
The decision to let senators leave Washington until there’s a deal comes after the House left Washington, D.C., last week.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said at the time that he would call members back with a 24-hour notice once they get an agreement.
“We’re not announcing the August work period. We will be ready to act as soon as we can on COVID-19 relief. … I will call this House back into session … at the very minute that we have an agreement, that we know we can pass something,” Hoyer said.
McConnell, who told reporters on Wednesday that the Senate would “certainly” be in session next week, said on Thursday that he wouldn’t formally adjourn the Senate for the August recess unless it becomes clear there is not a deal to be reached.
“The Senate won’t adjourn for August until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an agreement materialize. A lot of Americans’ hopes, a lot of American’ lives, are riding on the Democrats’ endless talk. I hope they’re not disappointed,” he said.
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