House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday, urging her to get Congress back to work in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to solve the many issues the virus has caused.
The House is currently out of session until May 4. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said before they left that absent an "emergency," he didn't expect them to come back to Washington, D.C. until then.
Leader McCarthy told Speaker Pelosi that members of the House still have not yet received guidance on how they plan on carrying out their normal duties in a safe manner:
"With the House now in its fourth week of regular session being suspended, I am writing to request that we work to establish a clear, safe, and effective plan for reopening Congress. In my view, conducting the business of the People’s House is the definition of 'essential work'—just as many of our friends and neighbors continue working to hold up our communities on a daily basis.
"Unfortunately, members have yet to be given specific guidance as to how Congress will fulfill its core duties—from deliberation to oversight to legislation—over the coming days and weeks.
"Since the onset of this pandemic, Congress has worked expeditiously to undertake the largest relief effort in our country’s history. Nevertheless, I think we can agree that our institution’s current posture cannot and should not become the norm."
Leader McCarthy said issues like how committees and subcommittees will be able to draft and mark-up legislative items, such as the National Defense Authorization Act, and scheduling so committees and subcommittees can carry out their business while complying with CDC guidelines need to be addressed.
"I fully appreciate the unprecedented nature of this challenge before us. But now, more than ever, our constituents expect us to rise to the occasion and overcome these trying circumstances," Leader McCarthy said. "It is imperative we outline a pathway forward that ensures transparency and regular order for all members—not centralized decision-making by a select group of leadership and staff that reduces the role of representative to merely voting 'yea' or 'nay' on pre-drafted proposals."
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