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Senate leaves Washington, on hiatus until April 20 amid pandemic

Posted: 8:02 PM, Mar 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-26 20:02:37-04
Congress shutting down US Capitol through the end of the month

WASHINGTON — Now that the Senate has passed its massive $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, senators will leave Washington for nearly a month as the nation battles both a medical and economic crisis.

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed.

The House is expected to take up the measure on Friday and pass it by voice vote. The Senate unanimously passed the bill late Wednesday. The government on Thursday reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record. It's fresh evidence that the U.S. is sinking into recession as coronavirus isolation steps have led to business closures.

The United States now leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. According to a running count by Johns Hopkins University, the number of people infected in the U.S. topped 82,000 on Thursday. That's just ahead of the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy. Italy has the most confirmed deaths of any country with more than 8,000. More than 1,000 people have died in the U.S.