House Has Change of Heart on Coming Back in Early May

Rayburn House Office Building. (Courthouse News photo/Jack Rodgers)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Members of the House will not be returning to Capital Hill on May 4, the date given just 24 hours earlier, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday morning, saying the body had reconsidered its return at the advice of health professionals. 

“During my weekly press conference, I said that after hearing from our Members and consulting with the Speaker and the Attending Physician, the House will not reconvene next week,” Hoyer tweeted Tuesday. “We will return once the CARES 2 package is ready.

“I continue to be focused on getting the people’s business done through remote work,” the Maryland Demcorat’s thread continues, “and I will be holding a meeting on this today.”

Dr. Howard Forman, a practicing diagnostic radiologist who is also faculty director of finance at Yale University, said in an email Tuesday that Congress should do what they can to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff, members and supporters. While they may have to meet to take votes, Forman said, members should be setting the example of how to effectively telework. 

“Congress has an average age that is in the late 50s and there are many members who are in the highest of risk groups, either due to age or chronic conditions,” the professor wrote. “Congress can, as with the rest of America, get a lot of work done via remote teleconferencing capability.” 

Hoyer previously told members on a caucus call Monday he had spoken with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and both members agreed they would return alongside the Senate on May 4 — in an effort to vote on additional Covid-19 relief legislation. 

Hoyer’s tweets Tuesday reiterate that House Democrats are intent on having the bill include money for additional testing and tracing of the virus, as well as election-security measures and “a fix for DC.” 

“I also said Dems are working hard on CARES 2, which must provide state, local & tribal governments with funding to keep first responders, teachers, and others on the job,” he tweeted. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement earlier this month the Senate would reconvene May 4, and that date is still when members are expected to return to Capitol Hill.

McConnell reiterated Monday the Senate would follow through on its plan to return at the beginning of the month, saying lawmakers will follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work safely. 

“We’ll modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but will honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business in person here in Washington,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement. “If doctors and nurses and healthcare workers and truck drivers and grocery store workers and many other brave Americans are showing up for work and doing their duty to try to keep the economy open and people protected, the least we can do is come back to work.” 

According to a Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 tracker, the U.S. is approaching 995,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 56,500 Americans having already died from infection. In Washington D.C., according to the same tracker, confirmed cases are approaching 4,000 confirmed, with 185 deaths.

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