Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is keeping the House of Representatives from joining the Senate in the nation’s capital full time because she fears Democrats could lose their majority in November, according to a key congressional Republican.
“I think it’s pretty telling, if she doesn’t want her members coming back to D.C., she really believes there is a need for them to be back in their districts,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) told The Epoch Times on June 16.
“And that tells me she is more worried about keeping their majority than what many prognosticators have given her the chance to do,” Davis said.
Davis is the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, which oversees the daily operations of the House of Representatives.
A spokesman for Pelosi didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
Democrats regained the House majority in the 2018 congressional elections after losing it in 2010; Republicans hold the majority in the Senate.
Davis and two Republican colleagues on the panel—Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Mark Walker (R-N.C.)—challenged Pelosi in a June 12 letter first reported on June 15 by The Epoch Times to “immediately expedite the roll-out of support assistance to offices, making it possible for staff and members to work in a safe environment” and to return the House to Capitol Hill to work alongside the Senate.
Davis rejected fears of the CCP virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—as justification for not bringing the House back to the Capitol.
“We’ve already demonstrated we can safely return the House … the Senate has been in D.C. almost weekly since the beginning of May,” Davis said.
“We have not seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Senate even though the average age of a senator makes them much closer to the most vulnerable population we been told about by the professionals than House members.”
In early May, Pelosi brought the House back to Washington temporarily to vote on her $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act economic recovery package and a proposal to allow House members to vote by proxy.
Davis said the ability of representatives’ staffs to help constituents with problems with the federal government is also hurt by keeping the House out of the Capitol. With the Capitol staff, many of whom are longtime employees and have connections to the bureaucracy, working at home and being more difficult to reach, the district staff has had a harder time getting the information they need to help constituents.
“We have seen an exponential increase in the number of cases that we’re dealing with in district offices,” Davis told The Epoch Times. “In my office alone, we’ve had 784 constituent cases related to travel restrictions, economic impact payments, unemployment, and others, and that is almost double the next highest amount handled in the first five months of any year since 2013.”
Caseworkers in other congressional offices on both sides of Congress told The Epoch Times of similar experiences in recent interviews.
“We are inundated every single day with calls from ‘Where is my IRS refund,’ to ‘I never received my stimulus,’ and ‘I did receive my [unemployment] debit card but it didn’t come in a government envelope, so I shredded it thinking it was a credit card offer,’” said the chief caseworker for a congressman representing a suburban southern district.
“Also, we get a very big bulk of calls from people who have not received their unemployment benefits. They say they cannot get through to talk to anyone and cannot get through on their website,” added the caseworker, who asked not to be named.
Similarly, the constituent services staff chief for a senator representing a midwestern state, who also requested anonymity, told The Epoch Times their caseload has increased from approximately 300 to more than 1,400 since March, necessitating the temporary diversion of six staffers to help the six regular caseworkers.
Democratic campaign strategist Jim Manley, former communications director for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told The Epoch Times on June 16 that he is skeptical of the idea that Pelosi is worried about November.
“If the Senate isn’t going to do much of anything, and [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell (R-Ky.) has made it abundantly clear that they are not, I’m not sure how much the Democratic leadership needs to worry about keeping the House in session if the Senate won’t take up what they are passing. Because the only thing McConnell cares about is confirming [Trump] nominees,” Manley said.
Similarly, Democratic strategist Jimmy Williams questioned the connection between keeping the House out of Washington and the November election.
“Being back in the district is good for any member of Congress if they are popular. If they aren’t, because they’ve tied themselves to Trump with plummeting poll numbers, now would be a good time to isolate,” Williams said.
But Republican strategist Brian Darling pointed to the voter profile difference between the 2018 and 2020 elections.
“There are 31 House districts in seats that President Trump carried in 2016, therefore Speaker Pelosi has a strong incentive to get House Democrats out of D.C. and into their districts to save themselves,” Darling said.
“In 2018, when President Trump was not on the ballot, many Trump voters stayed at home and Democrats had some big pickups in Trump districts. In this election, the Trump voters will be back and expect many nervous Democrats residing in Trump districts to head into the unemployment lines.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc.