US House leaders can’t agree on how to work, vote during pandemic

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. House of Representatives plans to be back in session next week but party leaders still haven’t come to terms on how they’re going to work or vote during the pandemic. 

There’s still no consensus on how the House can safely return to the Capitol without spreading the coronavirus among its members and staff. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says House Democrats favor allowing lawmakers the option to work from home if necessary.

“Either in person, electronically or hybrid, something like that,” Rep. Pelosi said. 

But she says changing the way Congress works should have support from both parties. 

“The Republican leader said let’s talk about it, so I said well if there’s a way to do it in a bipartisan way, that would be better,” she said. 

Speaker Pelosi insists those negotiations continue weeks after they began but says Democrats are holding firm on one issue. 

“Let me remove all doubt. Our members want proxy, remote voting,” she said. 

Republican leaders say the Democrats’ plan goes counter to representative government and places too much power in too few hands.

“Could one member hold two hundred proxies? In the Democratic version, that answer is yes,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. 

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy says members of Congress should show up for work, because they’re essential workers. 

He supports new rules for social distancing when lawmakers hold hearings and votes. 

“Starbucks proves every day they can work. The Senate proves they can work. Why is the only place in the Capitol that cannot work is the house,” Rep. McCarthy said. 

Both party leaders say they will consider recommendations from the Capitol physician as well.

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