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If essential employees and health care workers on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus are working, then the Senate will too, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asserted Wednesday.
"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," he explained.
"We'll practice proper safeguards in the wake of this and work safely in the Senate but get back to business. We're not going to sit on the sidelines during this period," McConnell stated.
"And," he added, "we're willing to discuss with the House -- even if they're not around -- we're willing to discuss the way forward, as I've already outlined, provided we have protections for the brave people who have been on the front lines."
"So, you -- how surprised and, dare I say, disappointed are you [that] the House is going home?" Kilmeade asked. "I mean, the -- for you guys, you're not any more in danger than they are or safe than they are. That choice, doesn't it hurt the country?"
"Yes," McConnell told Kilmeade. "Look, here's what we're going to do, Brian. We're going to modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we're going to honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business and we're going to do it in person.
"If it's essential for doctors, nurses, health care workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and many other brave Americans to keep carefully manning their own duty stations, then my view and the view of my colleagues is it's essential for senators to carefully man ours and support those folks who are out there on the front lines," he continued.
McConnell said he believes senators can practice social distancing and wear masks when it is appropriate.
"We believe we can conduct the peoples' business and we intend to," he said.
Senior lawmakers were told in a briefing by the Capitol physician Monday that they may not be able to convene full House sessions, with staffing, for at least a year amid the ongoing crisis.
Although House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., originally announced a May 4 return date for the House of Representatives in line with the Senate, a day later he pivoted after members voiced their concerns. Hoyer cited the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Washington, D.C., as well as advice from the Capitol physician, Politico reported.
"We made a judgment that we will not come back next week but that we hope to come back very soon," he told reporters.