By Masooma Haq
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Monday that the House will be in session for just three weeks between now and Nov. 16.
Members won’t be called back to the Capitol until the week of Sept. 14, giving representatives an additional week in their districts next month.
The August recess now in progress began without reaching a deal for the newest pandemic relief bill.
Hoyer said that Congress members could be called back with 24-hour notice before mid-September if there is a vote on the next relief bill. Democrats and White House officials may resume talks on a coronavirus aid package they were unable to agree on earlier this month.
“The September schedule will follow the same format as of June and July so that we can conduct our necessary work while protecting public health. The first week of September will be dedicated to committee work, with the House in session for votes the following three weeks,” said Hoyer.
Monday’s announcement gives incumbents one extra week to campaign in their districts before the Nov. 3 elections.
However, lawmakers are under a Sept. 30 government funding deadline to pass appropriation legislation to avoid a shutdown.
Hoyer criticized the Republican-led Senate for not passing the nearly $3 trillion Heroes Act and other Appropriation bills that were passed in the Democrat-controlled House.
“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. I hope Republicans will join us and act quickly to provide certainty that they will not shut the government down again,” added Hoyer.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addressed the stalled negotiations for the current pandemic relief bill on the Senate floor Monday, criticizing Democrats for having faulty priorities.
“Clearly this isn’t really about COVID at all. Democrats think they smell an opening they have wanted for years — to make Uncle Sam bail out decades of mismanagement and broken policies in places like New York, New Jersey, and California,” McConnell said.
“And so they’ve decided that no working family anywhere in America can get another cent unless they get to create a trillion-dollar slush fund for mismanaged states, completely out of proportion to pandemic needs,” added McConnell.
According to a schedule released by Majority Leader the second week of September will be dedicated to committee work, and lawmakers have the option to participate remotely.
Lawmakers will return in mid-September until Oct. 2 for three weeks of votes.
Hoyer has scheduled members to return the week of Nov. 16 for the “lame-duck” session following the election.
The House schedule reflects both the remote voting rule during the pandemic and the necessity of lawmakers to campaign in their districts. The House traditionally adjourns in October during an election year.
Congress members’ offices have largely been closed during the pandemic in order to protect lawmakers and their staff from contracting the virus.
“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,” Hoyer said Monday. “The House continues to be on 24-hour’s notice to return for votes on COVID-related legislation.”