As the fallout from the coronavirus dominates Washington and the country, one high-profile item has fallen out of the spotlight: a GOP effort to investigate Hunter Biden and Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings.
The slide to the back burner of the controversial probe comes as coronavirus cases in the United States have surged in recent weeks — from 2,224 on March 13 to more than 100,000 now, according to New York Times data — reshaping every aspect of American life, including the priorities of Congress.
Just over two weeks ago Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was talking about issuing his first subpoenas, but now, he acknowledged, that's been put on hold as the Senate takes an extended recess until April 20.
“There’s not much we can do for the time being, is there?” Johnson said when asked about his subpoena plans. “It is what it is.”
Even before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the change to the chamber’s schedule, any action unrelated to the coronavirus had largely ground to a halt as lawmakers focused on passing back-to-back relief bills.
The Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last held a public meeting March 11, according to the panel’s calendar, the same day that Trump would announce in an Oval Office address that he was halting travel from Europe for 30 days, among other steps.
Aides say staff-level work will continue but the limbo status for what was expected to be the investigation’s next phase underscores how quickly the virus reshaped plans on Capitol Hill.
“Our oversight team has continued their work on ongoing matters,” Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has joined with Johnson in the investigation, told The Hill.