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McConnell cancels Senate recess as lawmakers work to reach agreement on coronavirus aid bill

Will Pelosi follow suit?

The Senate will be in session next week despite a scheduled recess while lawmakers work on legislation to address the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Thursday afternoon.

"Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week," McConnell wrote in a tweet. "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."

McConnell's announcement came after multiple members of his own caucus called on Congress to cancel the next week's break, which had been scheduled for both chambers of Congress, in response to unfinished coronavirus business.

"Nursing home operators in Nebraska are telling me they're worried because they have patients who might have coronavirus, but they don't have enough testing kits to find out," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in a Thursday morning statement. "Instead of going into recess next week, the Senate ought to keep working on the people's business — both addressing the obvious deficiencies in our diagnostic testing pipeline, and debating the President's call last night for economic legislation."

"Due to the need to work on additional efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate should cancel its recess and remain in session next week," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted Thursday.

"Our nation's leaders must cast aside partisan politics and put the health of our country first," tweeted Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Congress needs to cancel its recess and stay in session so we can work together in a bipartisan fashion to address the coronavirus pandemic."

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said it would be "unacceptable for us to leave Washington, D.C. and recess without further acting to support our constituents."

The decision comes as lawmakers have yet to announce agreement on a large coronavirus economic aid bill being hashed out between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Pelosi put forward a version of the bill Wednesday night that drew criticisms from Republicans, citing the need for changes in order to make the effort bipartisan.

According to Fox News, the White House took issue with the bill's increases to medicaid spending, as well as a lack of language barring the use of federal funds for abortion. Meanwhile, the story adds that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy found fault with the proposal's paid sick leave provisions.

"This week brought a further opportunity to help communities and families face the economic effects of the virus spread," McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. "But unfortunately, it appears at this hour that the speaker and House Democrats instead chose to produce an ideological wish list that was not tailored closely to the circumstances."

At her weekly press briefing on Thursday morning on Thursday, Pelosi said that she was still working to Republicans' concerns, but dismissed the idea of staying in town longer than planned if a deal hadn't been struck by the end of the week.

"I'm not sticking around because they don't want to agree to language," the speaker told reporters. She later added that "everybody could have a complaint about this or that; save it for another day."

One last thing…
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