Congress delays return to Washington until at least May 4

Politics

FILE – In this March 18, 2020, file photo, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol are seen in Washington, at sunrise. Congress is considering ways to govern from afar during the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers are talking this week about whether it’s possible to conduct virtual committee meetings, particularly to oversee how the $2.2 trillion stimulus money is being spent. And they’re considering ways to pass virus-related legislation without requiring every lawmaker to be present. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday joined the House in delaying its next meeting in Washington, citing the need to protect members from the coronavirus pandemic.

The delay also gives lawmakers time more time to consider ways to deliberate while social distancing, amid ongoing talks about how to prop up the hard-hit economy. Congress is stalled over the followup to thelargest rescue bill in U.S. history. Progress is complicated by the ongoing need to stay apart, the advanced ages of many lawmakers and by President Donald Trump’s insistence that social distancing be eased sometime soon.

The House and Senate had originally planned to reconvene next week, but lawmakers have for days predicted that won’t happen. On Monday, House leaders announced they would not meet before May 4. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday did likewise, saying the move was based on advice from experts.

The sense of economic urgency tangled with a life-and-death struggle against the virus around the world, and amid 2020 presidential politics in the United States.

Trump’s new coronavirus aid request remains suspended in congressional politics. Democrats have refused to rubber stamp Trump’s proposal for $250 billion more to boost small businesses, demanding modifications along with an additional $250 billion for health care providers and states. Republicans wouldn’t go along.

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