House puts off floor votes until mid-September amid coronavirus gridlock
Washington — The House's No. 2 Democrat announced Monday the lower chamber will not return for votes in Washington until mid-September after negotiations between Democratic leaders and the White House on the next coronavirus relief measure collapsed last week, leaving millions of jobless Americans without immediate relief.
According to the schedule released by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Monday, the House will not convene for votes until September 14. Members will be working in their home districts and conducting committee work for the first two weeks of September. Lawmakers were initially scheduled to return September 8.
Hoyer said lawmakers would have 24 hours notice to return for votes on legislation related to the coronavirus.
"While President Trump declares that 'it is what it is,' it is clear that the Trump administration and Republicans have completely failed to get this virus under control, which has resulted in devastating economic impacts," Hoyer said in a statement. "I continue to urge Republicans to work with us to take immediate action to provide desperately needed relief during this coronavirus pandemic before we can begin the August district work period."
Late last month, House leaders canceled its traditional August recess and said the chamber would remain in session in anticipation of a deal on the next coronavirus relief package. But talks between Democratic leaders and the White House deadlocked Friday, and President Trump rolled out a series of executive actions over the weekend to circumvent Congress.
The orders cover four areas: extending supplemental unemployment payments of $400 a week, providing student loan relief to borrowers, halting evictions and deferring payroll taxes. But the action is expected to be challenged in court, and it's unclear whether states will sign on to Mr. Trump's plan for the federal government to provide $300 in weekly unemployment benefits and states to provide the final $100.
When lawmakers return for votes in mid-September they will be bumping up against a deadline to pass a government spending bill before funding runs out at the end of September and the government shuts down. Hoyer said he hopes GOP lawmakers will join Democrats and act to avoid a lapse in government funding.
"I expect the House to take action on a range of important issues, including ensuring the government is funded before the end of the month," he said. "While the House acted last month to pass funding for nearly every government agency, the Senate has yet to advance a single appropriations measure. We cannot risk a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis."
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