Hoyer: House will alter voting procedures amid coronavirus threat

Hoyer: House will alter voting procedures amid coronavirus threat
© Greg Nash

The House is poised to adopt new voting procedures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLobbying world Procedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Md.) announced Thursday.

The specific strategy remains undecided, Hoyer said in a letter to fellow Democrats, but appears ready to feature a mechanism of staggered voting to diminish crowding on the chamber floor.

"I share the concerns of many Members regarding the number of Members on the House Floor at any one time," Hoyer wrote. "I therefore expect that the House will adjust our voting procedures in order to follow the CDC’s recommendations."

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The letter arrives after two House lawmakers — Reps. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartFlorida Republican becomes sixth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus Rep. McAdams now 'virus-free' after tough battle with coronavirus Bottom Line MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) — announced Wednesday that they have contracted the virus. The news has prompted a number of their colleagues to announce self-quarantines, as a precautionary measure.

Hoyer and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls for investigation into reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in DHS custody Wisconsin highlights why states need a bipartisan plan that doesn't include Democrats federalizing elections Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote MORE (D-Calif.) have so far rejected a push from some lawmakers to adopt a system of remote voting. But amid growing member concerns about convening as a group in the Capitol, Democratic leaders have delayed the House's scheduled Monday return to Washington.

And Hoyer on Thursday emphasized that they won't reconvene until a third emergency relief package, currently being drafted by Senate Republicans, has cleared the upper chamber and is ready for a House vote.

It's unclear when the Senate might act, prompting the House to return. But Pelosi held a conference call Wednesday with party leaders and various committee heads and suggested it could be early next week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered a series of public guidance designed to mitigate the spread of the fast-moving coronavirus, which has infected almost 10,000 people in the United States, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Among the recommendations, the CDC is asking all sick employees to remain at home and encouraging everyone to practice simple hygiene and limit gatherings to groups of 50 or fewer. Earlier in the week, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE offered more stringent advice, saying gatherings should be limited to groups of 10 or fewer.