Lawmakers postpone foreign travel over coronavirus

Lawmakers postpone foreign travel over coronavirus
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers are starting to postpone overseas travel due to concerns about the coronavirus.

While congressional leaders are adamant that the Capitol will remain open to the public, members of Congress are scaling back their travel plans to limit exposure.
 
Several congressional delegations — also known as codels — that had been planned for next week's congressional recess are now on hold.
 
"One of the changes is that most of the codels have been canceled for next week," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who serves as vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
 
Beyer had been invited to be part of a delegation to the European Union with an itinerary that included a stop in Italy, where authorities on Monday announced a nationwide quarantine to contain a coronavirus outbreak. The trip has since been canceled.
 
Beyer, who had been unable to participate in the EU trip even before its cancellation, stressed that lawmakers will be working on the coronavirus response back in their districts during the recess.

"We may not be here voting, but we will all be working. It will be a special responsibility for each of us as members of Congress in our districts to continue to be the primary information providers on what's happening," Beyer said.
 
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Top Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump MORE (R-Ala.) said Tuesday that he had planned to travel to Brussels next week, but canceled the trip due to the coronavirus.
 
At least one lawmaker, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.), announced Tuesday that he was postponing an in-person town hall meeting on the census that had been scheduled for next week. His office said in a statement that the decision was "the result of recommendations from public health agencies."
 
Harder will instead hold a telephone town hall this week with local health officials to give constituents an update on the coronavirus.

House Democrats received a closed-door briefing Tuesday morning by the congressional physician’s office, Capitol Police and House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate MORE (D-Calif.) on ways to reduce the coronavirus spread, including "social distancing" to avoid all physical contact.
 
Instead of handshakes, lawmakers are now turning to elbow bumps to greet each other and breaking out the hand sanitizer.

"I did notice that the floor was relatively empty last night. People seemed to be voting and then leaving the floor right away," Beyer said.
 
Rep. Raul RuizRaul RuizHouse coronavirus bill aims to prevent utility shutoffs OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Oil prices jump amid partial reopenings | Bill aims to block fossil fuel firms from coronavirus aid | Tribes to receive some coronavirus aid after court battle Reopening economy emerges as new political battleground MORE (D-Calif.), a physician, said his office is taking extra precautions and conducting more meetings over the phone.

"In the office, we make sure that anybody who walks in uses hand sanitizers," Ruiz said.
 
interacting with an individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month who later tested positive.
 
Jordain Carney contributed.