House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her Democratic colleagues have just received some news they probably won’t like.
The White House has announced that it will only allow administration officials to testify before Congress in person, according to ABC News, in a rebuke to Pelosi’s efforts to conduct House business remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
White House: In-person testimony only
Republicans have been especially critical of the Democrat-led House of Representatives for its decision to continue working primarily from home, apparently to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
The GOP-controlled Senate, in contrast, has already returned to Washington, D.C., and seems to be doing just fine getting things done in person while also adhering to social distancing measures.
Nonetheless, the House recently adopted a rule that allows both remote hearings and even voting by proxy, as the Wall Street Journal noted.
But now, the White House has thrown a wrench into the works by only allowing in-person congressional testimony from members of the Trump administration.
“By permitting proxy voting, remote hearings, and virtual depositions, the Speaker and the House majority demonstrated they are not serious about doing the job that the American people sent them to Washington to do,” the White House stated, according to ABC News. “Nevertheless, the Administration is serious about and committed to its mission to lead and execute the laws. Therefore, federal officials will appear in person before a committee and we ask that each Chairman do the same.”
Administration standing firm
The White House said that it is willing to negotiate the conditions for testimony, but that Congress has to make some concessions of its own.
“The Administration is willing to make accommodations, but only when Congress is similarly willing to make accommodations, including agreeing to appear in person,” the White House letter announcing its position reads, according to ABC News. “We also remain cognizant of social distancing guidelines and instances where witnesses will need to participate virtually as a result of quarantine, and we will review those on a case-by-case basis.”
“The Administration must continue to maintain its highest operational status to stop the spread and to reopen our economy,” officials added. “Every single agency continues to play a role in the response and this singular focus must continue.”
The White House further reminded congressional leaders that senior-level administration officials, coronavirus task force members, and members of the coronavirus vaccine initiative must receive the approval of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows prior to providing testimony to the House and the Senate, regardless of the manner in which any proposed hearing might take place.
None of this is going to sit well with Pelosi or her fellow Democrats, but few decisions made by the Trump administration ever do.