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US House of Representatives to extend recess


US House of Representatives to extend recess

US House of Representatives social distancing during a March session
Photo: Twitter/Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon

The US House of Representatives has again extended its recess, planned to end today, due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in the Washington, DC area. The Senate, which has also been on recess, will reconvene as planned today.

The US capital has confirmed nearly 5,000 cases and over 200 deaths from COVID-19, which disproportionately affects men and the elderly. The average ages of the House and Senate are 58 and 63, respectively, meaning an outbreak within Congress could be particularly devastating to the highly susceptible population of lawmakers.

While both chambers managed to pass a nearly $500 billion stimulus bill last week, the current recess and social distancing guidelines have significantly hampered congressional proceedings. Many votes were cast remotely by senators and representatives unable to return to the capital. While bipartisan proposals were floated in both chambers to allow present congress members to cast proxy votes for those in self-quarantine, no legislation has been passed to date.

The House’s extended recess will likely form another obstacle for Congress’ next stimulus bill, “CARES 2.” While Democrats seek another large stimulus package with expanded unemployment benefits and small business payouts, expect budget-conscious Republicans to hesitate to engage in further spending—especially as many states begin to reopen their economies and the Congressional Budget Office has warned that recovery spending could see the federal deficit quadruple to $3.7 trillion by the end of the year.

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