As negotiations on the next stimulus package continue, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that the Senate will delay its August recess if a deal is not reached. The last day in session is currently scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7, with the recess expected to last until Tuesday, Sept. 8.
McConnell made the remarks when speaking with CNN, stating that senators will "certainly be in next week" and that "we'll see what happens after that." His comments come as a deal between Republicans and Democrats still appears to be far off, with President Donald Trump even threatening to take executive action if negotiations do not conclude soon. White House officials Steve Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, who have been meeting daily with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have set a deadline to negotiation with Democrats for the end of the week. However, with the two political parties holding vastly different views on certain aspects of the package, it is unclear if they will meet that deadline.
The Senate had faced fierce backlash last week when McConnell adjourned them last Friday, members not returning to Capitol Hill until this past Monday, despite that a deal regarding the GOP's proposed HEALS Act had not been reached. In the days that have followed, however, some Republicans had begun calling for McConnell to keep the chamber in session until a deal is reached.
Sen. John Cornyn said that it would "look like a dereliction of duty" for the Senate to go home without a deal when millions of Americans remain out of work and are struggling to stay afloat. According to Politico, Cornyn added that "the COVID-19 response is going to be an important part of the 2020 election. It's obviously not going away." Meanwhile, Sen. David Perdu said "we need to stay here and wrestle this to the ground."
It has long been believed that Aug. 7 would be a momentous day for what could be the final relief package amid the pandemic due to the recess. If the Senate were to recess, as is scheduled, there would be a 32-day period in which negotiations would not be taking place, as Congress will not reconvene until Tuesday, Sept. 8, during which times discussions would likely start again. This means that the much needed aid to be included in the legislation would be delayed by weeks. After negotiations on the package conclude, it will have to be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before making its way to President Donald Trump.