While some Republicans argue that lawmakers should be at the Capitol working on important legislation amid the coronavirus crisis, Democratic leaders say being physically present in D.C. is an unnecessary health risk.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said this week that there is no chance the legislative body will be called back into session in the immediate future, The Washington Times reported.
“Falls woefully short”
A plan developed in part by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would establish a schedule by which congressional committees could both meet in person and abide by social distancing guidelines.
“This restores regular order, so it’s just not leadership or the speaker deciding what’s being worked on and what to focus on the pressing needs by these bills coming up through committee, they should be more bipartisan,” McCarthy said on Tuesday, according to the Times.
Stoyer and other House Democrats shot down the proposal, though, saying that it “falls woefully short of reopening the House for legislative business.”
Acknowledging that their work “is essential,” the Democrats’ response maintained that “getting our work done during this pandemic in the 21st century should not endanger the health of hundreds of members and potentially thousands of people convening in the Capitol, especially as COVID-19 cases in the national capital region continue to rise,” the Times reported.
Senate back in session
In the other chamber of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opted to call senators back to Capitol Hill with certain restrictions in place.
“We will continue to stand together for the American people — even as we stand 6 feet apart,” he said of plans to reconvene for the first time since March, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The announcement received President Donald Trump’s approval and signaled that lawmakers could return to work while abiding by guidelines still in place across D.C.
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed disappointment in the agenda senators would be called to address, describing it in a recent conference call as short on much-needed assistance for Americans.
“Democrats are going to fight like hell,” he said, according to the AP. “We’re going to make sure people have enough money to live and get back on their feet.”
As the House stays away, many Americans wonder if Democrats are moving the goalposts from shutting the nation down until the curve is flattened to keeping citizens stuck in their homes without a functioning government until the virus is completely gone. But will the American people stand for it? Only time will tell.