Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has no plan to bring the lower chamber of Congress back to work in the nation’s capital until 2021, according to Republicans on the committee that administers the House of Representatives.
“As an overwhelming majority of the country, including Washington, D.C., has moved into phased physical re-openings, the House’s operating status has not changed,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, told Pelosi in a June 12 letter obtained by The Epoch Times.
Also signing the letter with Davis were Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the other Republicans on the administration panel, which is chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).
“The numerous congressional district offices that have reopened throughout the country have done so with little to no support because of failure to provide support in real time,” the letter continues.
“Furthermore, a transparent plan with clear guidance, timelines, and benchmarks to support a transition to phased reopening has not been made available to offices.
“This has resulted in unnecessary confusion and led many to conclude that House Democrats have no plans of physically showing up to do their job for the remainder of this Congress.”
The current Congress, the 116th since it first convened under the Constitution in 1789, will likely end its official work in late December, but won’t officially conclude until Jan. 3, 2021. The 117th Congress will convene the same day.
A spokesman for Davis said his office hasn’t received a response from Pelosi. A spokesman for Pelosi declined to comment to The Epoch Times about the letter, instead deferring the request to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), whose “office manages the floor schedule.”
Hoyer answers to Pelosi, who as speaker has the final authority to control House proceedings.
The three Republicans told Pelosi they know of no official plan to make the hundreds of offices and support facilities in the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings safe from the CCP virus.
Most House members have Capitol Hill office suites, which consist of three large rooms in which anywhere from 15 to 18 staff members work, as well as varying numbers of offices and staff members working in their home districts.
In addition to the Congressional Budget Office, Library of Congress, and Government Accountability Office staffs and offices, there are also multiple other support staffs that work preparing food, delivering mail, managing parking facilities, overseeing media services, and a host of other activities required to keep the House functioning.
The Capitol Police have continued working throughout the current session of Congress despite the absence of most members and staffers.
Davis, Walker, and Loudermilk said in their letter to Pelosi: “The House must now play catch up to establish specific occupancy recommendations; retrofit and reconfigure spaces; support implementing health monitoring programs, including some level of testing; establish service level agreements for House support offerings and making common-sense adjustments, like the acceptance of digital signatures for routine transactions; provide reopening guidelines for House facilities, such as daycare, fitness centers, and others; adjust business processes for events and visitors; and provide adequate support for committee activities.
“In the limited time remaining in the 116th Congress, there are many important issues that Congress needs to address. We should not be wasting time by making it more difficult for members to do their jobs and should catch up with the rest of the country in a safe physical reopening of the House of Representatives.
“We therefore ask that you immediately expedite the roll-out of support assistance to offices, making it possible for staff and members to work in a safe environment.”
Statewide lockdowns that began in March saw all but the most essential businesses close, and employees, including the more than 20,000 who work for Congress, begin working from home.
The 100 members of the U.S. Senate and 435 House members also stayed away from the Capitol complex for more than six weeks. The Republican-led Senate returned May 4, but Pelosi hasn’t committed to a specific date on which she plans to bring the full House back into session in the chamber on a permanent basis.
Meanwhile, congressional committees have held remote hearings with witnesses and members participating via teleconference, and the House was returned temporarily to vote on Pelosi’s $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) economic recovery package and a proposal to allow House members to vote by proxy.
House Republicans led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have sued in federal court claiming the proxy voting process adopted by House Democrats violates the Constitution’s requirement that House members be physically present in the chamber to vote.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc