U.S. House will not return next week after all, due to coronavirus risk
By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week as planned, due to the continuing risk of coronavirus infection, Democratic leaders said on Tuesday, in a reversal of plans outlined only a day earlier. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the decision to keep the chamber on an extended recess after discussing the situation with the official House physician, as well as House members
By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week as planned, due to the continuing risk of coronavirus infection, Democratic leaders said on Tuesday, in a reversal of plans outlined only a day earlier.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the decision to keep the chamber on an extended recess after discussing the situation with the official House physician, as well as House members.
"The numbers (of coronavirus cases) in the District of Columbia are still going up," Hoyer told reporters. "The House physician's view was that there was a risk to members that was one he would not recommend taking."
On Monday, Hoyer's office said on Twitter that lawmakers would return on May 4. But some House Democrats expressed unhappiness with the decision during a conference call.
The Republican-run Senate is still returning next week, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Congress has not met in regular session since last month, though it has passed major coronavirus relief bills worth nearly $3 trillion, partly by using rules allowing bills to pass with just a small number of lawmakers present. Last week the full House met one day to approve the most recent, $484 billion coronavirus package.
Hoyer said the House still intends to return soon to complete a new coronavirus response bill that Democrats have vowed to use as a vehicle for funneling hundreds of billions of dollars in assistance to state and local governments. He said he hoped House committees would be able to work remotely while the chamber is out.
In a separate call with reporters, Pelosi said it appeared $500 billion would be needed for states, and possibly "a very big figure also for counties and municipalities.” Lawmakers have already provided $150 billion to state and local governments in previous coronavirus legislation.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer warned that state and local governments would see "massive" layoffs without more aid from Congress to keep police, firefighters, ambulance crews and other frontline workers on the job.
But McConnell has shown no enthusiasm for more aid to states and cities. He also told Republican senators Tuesday that he will not support spending on infrastructure in the next coronavirus relief bill, Axios reported. President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, has called for $2 trillion in infrastructure spending.
Trump said Tuesday said he was open to aid to states, but not to those guilty of "mismanagement."
"I think there's a big difference with a state that's lost money because of COVID and a state that's been run very badly for 25 years," Trump said at the White House.
With the Republican-run Senate due to return on Monday, House Democrats rejected the idea that the chamber they operate is idling.
“We do not see ourselves at a disadvantage. We are constantly working. We are preparing our legislation,” Pelosi said.
Hoyer said it appeared the Senate was returning to confirm judges and executive appointments. "Now whether they are going to do any substantive legislation is another question," he said.
(Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)
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