U.S. House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the House would not convene in Washington next week as planned, citing ongoing risks presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hoyer had said on Monday that House members would return on May 4 to Washington, where the coronavirus continues to spread and claim lives at a relatively high rate.
But House Democrats balked at returning then, noting risks of getting infected and the need to handle family issues at home such as child care.
Hoyer said he reversed his decision after discussing the matter with the official House physician.
"The House's physician's view was that there was a risk to members that we would not recommend taking," Hoyer told reporters.
Congress has approved economic stimulus legislation worth $3 trillion with a small number of legislators present, but it has not met in regular session since last month.
Hoyer said the House still plans to return to Capitol Hill soon to finish working on a new coronavirus response measure that Democrats have promised would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid to state and local governments.
The National Governors Association has requested another $500 billion, and county and city governments have asked for $250 billion.
Any legislation must also be approved by the Senate, which still plans to return to Washington on May 4.
Senate Majority leader Republican Mitch McConnell, who drew criticism last week when he suggested that states could file for bankruptcy, said Monday that Congress could approve more funding for states. But he said any new legislation must also include liability protection for businesses and health care providers.
Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer called Tuesday for new hearings on Republican President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak when the Senate returns to Washington next week.
The New York Democrat said the Trump administration "has failed miserably at implementing almost all the things that Congress has passed" and that officials should answer "tough question after tough question."