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Even as governors across the country impose increasingly restrictive – and eminently necessary – measures to promote teleworking and other forms of social distancing to stem the coronavirus tide, and as lawmakers themselves face the news that they have tested positive for the virus or otherwise must self-isolate, too many members of Congress have remained puzzlingly reluctant to make social distancing possible in their own institution. There was even news on Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had been spotted at the Senate gym the same morning he found out he’d tested positive for the virus. As Democratic Representatives Eric Swalwell, Katie Porter, and Van Taylor urged in a letter to House leadership last week: “[W]e cannot stand on tradition if it puts lives – and our ability to be the voice of our constituents – at risk.” At an absolute minimum, they argued, Congress must allow them to vote on bills remotely, without requiring all 435 Members to show up in person, breaching even the president’s guidance about gatherings in groups. Yet it is not at all clear the relevant (modest) rule changes being proposed will appear in the stimulus legislation Congress is now racing to pass.
Congress, Coronavirus disease, Transparency
Pearlstein, Deborah, "We Badly Need Congress to Act. We Don’t Need Congress to Act in Person." (2020). Online Publications. 17.