Story at a glance
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked when business activity can resume in the Capitol.
- An estimated quarter of representatives haven’t been vaccinated, making reopening difficult.
Along with many other workplaces, the U.S. House of Representatives is recording its anniversary of having been formally closed as part of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Some members, namely House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), are wondering when Congress will be open for House members, asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) when in-person governance can resume.
“It’s time that we return to regular order. House Republicans are eager for the chance to reopen the People’s House, restore America’s voice in Congress, and work day in and day out to address the many concerns our constituents face,” McCarthy’s letter to Pelosi reads.
In advocating the reopening of congressional offices, McCarthy cited a statistic: As of March 10, roughly 75 percent of House members have been fully vaccinated, or will have been by the end of the week of March 8.
This number implies that one-quarter, or roughly 25 percent, of members of the House have not been vaccinated. Some reports suggest that this remaining quarter of representatives either refuse to receive the vaccine or are not eligible due to health conditions.
There are many factors that demand to be taken into account when returning to office spaces amid the pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines that workers who are at increased risk for a severe infection, are caregivers for vulnerable individuals or have a role where they interact with multiple people should all be cautious when returning to work.
Despite the wider circulation of COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC still recommends social distancing in workplace environments and wearing facial masks at all times during the work day.
Current public health guidelines issued for the House by the Committee on House Administration still recommend congressional members and staff wear fitted face masks indoors, reducing the number of staff in work spaces, utilizing telework or staggered scheduling options to reduce people in crowded spaces and screening visitors.
Pelosi has yet to set a date for reopening.