Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Thursday afternoon that the chamber has canceled its scheduled recess next week.
Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week. 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.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) March 12, 2020
It is currently unclear whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will follow suit by canceling her chamber’s recess next week. Earlier this week, Pelosi told Capitol Hill reporters that “there’s no reason” to change the House’s schedule. Pelosi also said in a closed-door meeting earlier this week that “we are the captains of the ship” and “we are the last to leave” when expressing her conviction that the House would not depart the Capitol any earlier than the scheduled spring recess starting Thursday, according to The Hill.
TPM reported earlier Thursday about rank-and-file Senate Republicans becoming increasingly vocal about their opposition to going on recess without a having voted on a measure addressing COVID-19. McConnell’s recess cancelation announcement came on the heels of Senate Republicans expressing their opposition.
Before McConnell’s announcement, it was unclear whether the Senate would try to push through a coronavirus-related measure in the next day or two, or if it would just cancel next week’s break altogether.
Senators will now have the ability to go home for the weekend, many of them flying to and from Washington, and interact with their constituents. Some lawmakers have already said they planned on going back to their states after Thursday’s final vote. It’s unclear if others will try to reduce the chance of them spreading the virus by staying in Washington through the weekend.
In addition to the coronavirus crisis, the Senate also must deal with a mess that has broken out over the renewal of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that allows law enforcement to seek certain surveillance warrants. The law expires this weekend.
House and Senate leadership had reached a bipartisan deal on a renewal bill that’s passed the House already. But a handful of Senate Republicans have objected to it, and President Trump also suggested on Twitter he might not sign it.
Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted “coup” of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
There was some discussion of the Senate doing a short-term extension of the law that would give the Senate time to let the objecting Republicans to offer amendments to the bipartisan proposal. It doesn’t appear that the Senate will vote on a short-term extension before lawmakers leave town.