The House of Representatives had been scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. on May 4, allowing Congress to resume its normal functions.
But Democrats just threw a wrench into those plans, according to the Daily Caller.
“A risk to members”
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) revealed that his caucus would not be coming back at the beginning of next month, telling reporters that the decision had been made after consulting with the House physician.
“We made a judgment that we will not come back next week but that we hope to come back very soon,” Politico quoted Hoyer as saying. “The House physician’s view was that there was a risk to members that was one he would not recommend taking,” he added.
The veteran Democratic politician said that despite members’ absence, video technology would allow them to continue doing some work remotely.
“At this point in time, we are going to be working in the interim on trying to facilitate committees meeting in a real way, but virtually,” Hoyer suggested. “I think committees could do the same thing.”
According to John Hopkins University, there have been some 205 coronavirus-related deaths in Washington, with many others dying of the illness in neighboring Virginia and Maryland.
“We had no choice.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for her part, has voiced support for the move. “We had no choice. If the Capitol physician recommends that we not come back, then we have to take that guidance,” she said Tuesday, according to Politico.
What’s more, Pelosi seemed unconcerned about how the move would impact business in the Senate, which is scheduled to return on Tuesday. Instead, she stressed the need to protect lawmakers.
“Whether the Senate is in or not is a matter of a health decision that their leadership has to make,” Pelosi explained, according to Politico. “But we could not take any chances.”
She went on: “We can’t be bothered about whether we’re disadvantaged to the Senate [returning]. What we have to be bothered about is the health and safety at the Capitol of the United States.”
For his part, President Donald Trump expressed derision toward the absent Democrats, according to The Hill, telling reporters on Wednesday, “I think they should be back here, but they don’t. They’re enjoying their vacation.”