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McConnell cancels Senate recess amid coronavirus work

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell talks are ongoing between the Senate, House and President Donald Trump on coronavirus legislation. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell talks are ongoing between the Senate, House and President Donald Trump on coronavirus legislation. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- The Senate's planned recess for next week has been canceled as Congress works on legislation tackling the coronavirus outbreak, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday.

Senators had been scheduled to leave Thursday for their weeklong recess.

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"Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week," McConnell tweeted. "I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi. I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong."

Pelosi hasn't made any announcements about whether the House will cancel its recess as well.

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She said during her weekly news conference Thursday afternoon that the House plans to vote later in the day on a multi-billion dollar bill to battle COVID-19. House Democrats unveiled the bill Wednesday, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

It includes free testing for anyone in need, paid sick leave and enhanced unemployment insurance. It also includes clear protections for frontline workers, increased federal funds for Medicaid and strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals and seniors nutrition and food banks.

Specifically, the bill includes more than $1 billion for food assistance with $500 million allocated to provide food to low-income pregnant women and mothers of young children who lose their jobs due to COVID-19, $400 million for local food banks and $250 million for the senior nutrition program. It also calls for the Department of Agriculture to approve plans to provide SNAP assistance to children who receive free or discounted meals so they can continue to have food while their schools are closed.

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The bill also includes requirements that all employees receive 14 days of paid sick leave.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion coronavirus funding bill that some have said isn't enough to protect Americans from the negative effects of the outbreak.

Darryl Coote contributed to this report.

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