House Scuttles Plan to Return to Washington Next Week
WASHINGTON – A day after announcing members would be returning to Washington, House leadership reversed course Tuesday and announced they will not bring the chamber back into session next week.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., made the announcement Tuesday morning, citing the advice of the Office of the Capitol Attending Physician.
“The house doctor, when I talked to him yesterday, was concerned because the numbers in the District of Columbia are going up,” Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday. “They’re not flat, and they’re not going down.”
Other considerations included the progress of ongoing bipartisan conversations surrounding additional pandemic relief legislation and a proposed Rule change related to remote work.
In an email, Hoyer said “Members are further advised that they will be given sufficient notice of when they would need to return to Washington.”
There is no immediate word on whether the Senate will follow suit. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his members would be coming back on May 4.
The goal for the House now is to come back some time later in May to pass the next pandemic relief package.
That package is expected to include more direct assistance to state and local governments, as well as the District of Columbia, tribes, and territories.
The House Ways and Means Committee is also working on a proposal to provide another round of stimulus checks to families, more unemployment assistance, and tax incentives to help address growing supply chain issues.
It is unclear, currently, whether the proposal will be included as a provision of the next relief bill or considered separately.
Even had the House come back into session, it would have had to work in a far different manner than it did before the pandemic struck the U.S. in mid-March.
It was anticipated that most offices in the Capitol complex would have remained closed and that the House would be using the same staggered voting process it used to pass the third economic stimulus package.
In-person hearings would also have been staggered in large committee rooms to ensure meetings were held in large enough spaces to practice social distancing.
Following Hoyer’s announcement, the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms extended the restricted access to the Capitol Complex through 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 16.