Democrats Abandon Indoor Capitol Meal After Backlash

Democrats Abandon Indoor Capitol Meal After Backlash
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to media on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 3, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Democrats in Washington on Friday modified plans for an indoor meal at the U.S. Capitol after widespread backlash to a photograph showing the arranged room.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a reporter that the dinner would be safe.

"It's very safe," she said, adding that there was enhanced ventilation that the Capitol physician signed off.

After people from both sides of the aisle called the dinner a bad idea, Pelosi's spokesman said the plans were changed.

"Our office strictly follows the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, including for this dinner. To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner," Drew Hammill, the spokesman, wrote on social media.

"Members-elect are now picking up their boxed meals and departing the Capitol. There is no group dinner. Members-elect are in D.C. already for orientation," he added.

While the original plans attracted criticism, there were some defenders.

“Don’t see what the issue is here. Restaurants in D.C. are open,” former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) wrote in a tweet.

Representatives- and senators-elect were in Washington to attend an orientation that includes information on hiring staff members and other matters they must attend to before and during the next Congress.

Sunlight shines through the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 20, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Sunlight shines through the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 20, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Government officials across the nation, including in California, have urged or ordered people to refrain from gathering for Thanksgiving, and strict rules are being reimposed as the number of COVID-19 cases rise in a number of areas.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. It kills a small percentage of patients but the overwhelming majority survive, many without hospital care.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued a stay at home order in March that directed all residents to stay home or at their place of residence, with some exceptions.

The guidance was loosened in May but remains in place.

Any gathering that includes more than three households is prohibited in California. Officials said all gatherings must be held inside, until a Nov. 13 order allowed small indoor gatherings in certain parts of the state.

Gatherings of more than 50 in the District of Columbia are barred and residents are encouraged to hold outdoor activities, according to phase two guidance from Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat.

Federal lawmakers are exempt from D.C. rules because they've been deemed essential workers.

Bowser herself broke rules by traveling to Wilmington, Delaware, earlier this month to celebrate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and not going into quarantine afterwards.

"I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia, and some of them are formal, and some of them are informal, but all of them are necessary," Bowser told reporters, adding that her trip was official government business and therefore the rules didn't apply.