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Senate cancels recess next week to work on coronavirus relief package

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement via Twitter

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives in the Capitol on Thursday. He announced the Senate would be in next week to handle a coronavirus relief package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives in the Capitol on Thursday. He announced the Senate would be in next week to handle a coronavirus relief package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is canceling its recess next week in hopes of passing a coronavirus relief package, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday.

The Kentucky Republican announced the cancelation via his Twitter account, expressing hope the Democrat-led House and Trump administration can hash out a deal the Senate is willing to pass.

The announcement came as a spate of lawmakers urged the cancellation of the recess, ranging from conservatives like Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse to liberals like Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown.

[Negotiators talk coronavirus stimulus as clock ticks]

“I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong,” McConnell tweeted.

On the Senate floor earlier Thursday, McConnell criticized the House version of a relief package, calling it “an ideological wish list that was not tailed closely to the circumstances” communities currently face.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are working on tweaks to the package to address GOP concerns. House Democrats’ latest coronavirus response package to address GOP concerns, with Pelosi and top Republicans saying it was still possible the two chambers could come together on a bill quickly.

Pelosi said talks with Mnuchin had produced some “very reasonable” suggestions for changes to the bill. And President Donald Trump appeared to back off his insistence on an immediate, massive payroll tax cut that Democrats oppose and Republicans have been cool to, which could ease the path for a quick deal.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told reporters she backed keeping the Senate in session.

“It will be in front of the Senate sooner than later, and we just might need a few more days to get a vote on the bill,” Gillibrand said, referring to the House stimulus bill. “So staying here to get that work done, I think, is essential,” she said.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., added, “what she said.” They appeared with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

House leaders have not made an announcement about that chamber’s schedule. It is scheduled to be on recess as well next week, but with events changing so quickly and the coronavirus pandemic taking over the news, changes might be inevitable.

Paul M. Krawzak, Doug Sword and Jacob Metz contributed to this story.

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