Senators will return “one week from today,” he announced. “We will modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we will honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business in person.”
After passing the $2.2 trillion CCP virus relief package in late March, the Senate dispersed. The body was scheduled to vote on April 20 but the return date was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate passed a bill that included billions more for a small business loan program last week but some lawmakers missed the voice vote.
McConnell said earlier this month that the full Senate wasn’t expected back in Washington until at least May 4, citing the country working together “to flatten the curve,” or the peak of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases.
Some lawmakers have pushed for an earlier return, but the rejoining won’t happen for another seven days.
McConnell said senators couldn’t continue to not attend to their duty while doctors, nurses, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, among others, carried out their jobs.
The top Republican in Congress said the Senate should focus on taking concrete steps to strengthen the U.S. response to the pandemic, highlighting “a tangle of federal and state laws” that he said could lead to “opportunistic lawsuits” against small businesses owners and healthcare professionals.
The issue was partially addressed in the latest package but Congress will need to expand and strengthen protections, he said.
“Republicans will proudly insist on these and other strong, pro-certainty, pro-growth reforms throughout any and all future discussions,” he said, while criticizing “tangential left-wing daydreams.”
The fourth virus relief package, signed by President Donald Trump on April 24, included an infusion of $300 billion to the program that’s helping small businesses with payroll and overhead costs after the program ran out of money.
The package also included $100 billion for hospitals and testing and about $60 billion each to banks and the Small Business Administration’s disaster aid program.
As usual, the upcoming legislative priorities of Republican congressional leaders and Democratic ones appeared out of sync. While McConnell focused on protection from lawsuits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is pushing for funds for state and local governments.
“We will have state and local and we will have it in a very significant way,” Pelosi said during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
McConnell has said states could declare bankruptcy if they are facing funding issues, some of which predate the pandemic.