Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, says it’s time for visitors to be allowed again to visit the U.S. Capitol, but he doubts Democratic leaders will let that happen before the November election.
“It’s crucial. I was doing a Zoom meeting with constituents earlier today in Statuary Hall and they asked me what it’s like in Washington, what’s it going to be like in the next few months,” Davis told The Epoch Times on July 21.
“I spun my phone around and showed them I was sitting where Abe Lincoln’s desk used to sit in Statuary Hall, sitting in a chair all by myself, social-distanced from anyone because no one is there. It’s July 21st, at 10:30 in the morning. Are you kidding me,” Davis said.
“That place would be packed in any other year, but that’s what we’re under and that one instance reminded me of what we’ve got to get back to,” he continued.
“I don’t believe the Democratic majority in the House ever wants to get us back to that point because they are not doing the things necessary to mitigate the risk on the House campus, to test House employees, and in the end, to plan for funding for antibody testing,” he said.
While the House is officially back in town this week, it continues to operate with thousands of personal and committee aides still telecommuting, as they have since late March, due to the CCP virus, which is commonly known as the novel coronavirus and causes the disease COVID-19.
No visitors are allowed anywhere in the Capitol complex, and, with minimal administrative staff present, often the only humans seen in the three House office buildings adjacent to the Capitol are members of the Capitol Police force.
Committees are meeting and votes are being taken on the House floor but under tight social distancing rules such as teleconferencing from remote sites and proxy voting by representatives who aren’t physically present in the House chamber, although the Constitution requires that votes be taken in person.
The House Administration Committee, on which Davis is the top Republican, oversees the day-to-day operations of the House of Representatives and has oversight of federal elections.
A spokesman for committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) didn’t immediately respond to an email request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Davis is especially concerned that antibody testing isn’t being implemented aggressively enough.
“The only true way for this country, and the Capitol complex for that matter, to understand the true impact of COVID is to understand who may have been sick but didn’t know it, and now have the antibodies,” Davis said.
The mortality rate for the CCP virus decreased last week, marking the 12th consecutive weekly decline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We are in a very different place than what we were in February and March,” U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome Adams told CBS News last week. “If you actually get diagnosed with COVID, your chance of dying from it is significantly lower than what it was in February and March.”
Asked why he thinks House Democrats aren’t moving to restore a more normal routine on the Capitol campus, given the CDC data and Adams’s comment, Davis pointed to two factors.
“I think it has to do with control and I think it has to do with politics,” Davis said. He noted that bills such as the $3 trillion HEROES Act, approved by the House in May, “was completely manufactured and written in [Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s] suite.”
Davis also noted the House Democratic leaders’ imposition of proxy voting as a political move, claiming “when people aren’t here, you’re usually able to convince them to vote your way.”
Asked if he expects congressional staff and members of the public to be allowed to return to the Capitol complex after the November election, Davis said, “I certainly hope so, but I would like to see us back to a sense of normalcy now.”
The problem is that “Democrats know they can control their agenda and not have bipartisan input when they don’t have us back in Washington. And I believe their leadership and committee chairmen will do as much as possible to keep us out of Washington,” Davis added.
Davis also is a member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc