WASHINGTON – One day after announcing that the House would meet again in Washington next week, House Democrats reversed course and announced Tuesday that lawmakers would not return to the Capitol after all because of the coronavirus threat.
“We have decided that we will not be back next week,” said House majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., During a phone call to reporters.
Hoyer said he spoke to the home doctor on Monday evening about the decision. The majority leader cited an increasing number of cases of coronavirus in the Washington metropolitan area.
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“We won’t be back next week, but we hope to be back very soon to review the CARES 2 legislation,” said Hoyer, referring to the next major coronavirus relief package that would reflect the $ 2 trillion package dollars signed at the end of the law. March.
Asked about the decision, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said at a separate press conference, “We had no choice. If the Capitol doctor recommends not to return, we should follow these tips in the interest of the safety of the people who work here. ”
“We couldn’t take any chances,” she added, noting that many people beyond just lawmakers work at the Capitol, such as office staff and the warden.
Pelosi has said that she does not think that the physical absence of members of the House disadvantages them. Lawmakers are “constantly working” and are preparing legislation for the next round of help for coronaviruses, she said.
Democratic leaders initially told members of the base during a caucus conference call Monday that the House is scheduled to meet starting Monday, May 4. They also informed members that ground votes would also be possible next week.
Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to return to the Capitol next Monday.
“We are going to change the routines in a smart and safe way, but we will respect our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct essential business in person,” said Senate Majority Officer Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., In a press release Monday afternoon.
“The Senate must focus on concrete measures to strengthen our response to this complex crisis. We cannot be distracted by pre-existing partisan wish lists or calls to paper in decades of reckless decisions that have nothing to do with COVID-19, “added McConnell.
Many members live in states where residence orders are in effect, and one of these orders is in effect for Washington, DC, until at least May 15. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to peak later than in New York. According to data provided by the District of Columbia on Monday, nearly 4,000 people in the city tested positive for the disease and 190 people died.
Bowser said at a press conference on Monday that D.C. did not meet the criteria to begin reopening, which is 14 days of sustained decline in the number of cases.