Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated on Wednesday that he was standing by his decision to call the Senate back into session in Washington next week, The Hill reported. McConnell said that the Senate will not “sit on the sidelines” during this crucial time.
Democrats in the Senate are criticizing McConnell’s decision, saying that it’s not safe for them or the staff in the Capitol to head back to work right now. The Hill wrote that it’s unclear whether or not McConnell consulted with the Capitol Hill physician to see if it was safe for the Senate to return.
Per The Hill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer commented that the physician had told leaders within the House of Representatives that it wasn’t the safest time for lawmakers to come back to Washington yet.
“The Capitol Hill physician, the chief doctor there, told the House it wasn’t safe. I don’t even know if McConnell called him. So I don’t know what he told McConnell, if he talked to McConnell at all.”
Leaders in the House of Representatives were planning to have congressmen return to Washington on Monday as well, but they reportedly decided to wait. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that they were delaying their return to comply with the recommendations of the Capitol Hill physician, who said it wasn’t yet okay for lawmakers to come back to Washington because the D.C. area hasn’t yet succeeded in lowering the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the area.
On Wednesday, McConnell made a point of saying that the Senate would be returning to work while the House would not.
“Well, one thing we’re going to do, is we’re going to come back to work next Monday, the House is not,” he said. “We feel like if people on the front lines are willing to work during the pandemic, we should be as well. And so the Senate will come back, we’ll be in session next week.”
According to The Hill, Democrats are questioning McConnell’s motivations for calling the Senate back into session. Sen. Richard Blumenthal suggested that McConnell wasn’t doing so in order for them to figure out issues related to the pandemic.
“McConnell is bringing back the Senate to confirm judges — judges, you read that right. Not to provide real solutions to the nation’s hardship & heartbreak. He’s recklessly endangering Capitol workers & others for pure partisan politics.”
Schumer also suggested that McConnell wanted to get the Senate back to work so that they could hold votes on judicial appointments. He went on to say that if the Senate does resume session next week, the focus should be on addressing the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hill reported that though senators want to get back to work, they want to do so safely. Whether or not doing so means going back on Monday remains to be seen.