McConnell cancels Senate recess to continue work on coronavirus legislation
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Thursday afternoon that the Senate’s planned recess next week is now canceled, as lawmakers work toward passing legislation to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
This comes as Republicans are opposing House Democrats’ proposed legislation, which McConnell had described as an “ideological wish list.” His opposition, along with that of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has left the status of the bill in limbo.
“Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week,” McConnell tweeted. “I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi. I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”
A senior Senate Republican aide said that senators will be departing for the weekend but will be back to address the House bill Monday, despite originally scheduled to have next week off.
“We’ll take a look at anything they send us,” McConnell said.
The Democrats’ bill, unveiled late Wednesday, provides for paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing and funding for states to address economic hardships imposed by the coronavirus. McCarthy had opposed it due to the lack of exemptions or sunsets for the paid sick leave, as well as the time it would take to set up the sick leave program.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and her fellow Democrats are open to making changes to their bill and are still discussing the issues with the Trump administration.
In the meantime, authorization for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will lapse Sunday, as lawmakers had been working on a new FISA bill. The House had unveiled new FISA reform legislation Tuesday night which aimed to scale back certain surveillance powers and increase oversight and accountability in the wake of a Justice Department Inspector General report that revealed significant problems with how FISA was used in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.