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Pelosi: House shifting to digital floor documents system to help prevent coronavirus spread

Pelosi: House shifting to digital floor documents system to help prevent coronavirus spread
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster House Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday announced that the House will shift to a digital system to submit floor documents to help prevent members and staff from catching or spreading COVID-19.

In a Dear Colleague letter sent to lawmakers, the California Democrat said leaders are looking to ensure that the necessary precautions are taken to keep individuals safe amid the pandemic so lawmakers “are best able to serve our constituents.”

“In that spirit, in consultation with the Rules Committee, Committee on House Administration, Office of the Clerk and Office of the Parliamentarian and in accordance with current social distancing guidelines, the House will soon take additional action to reduce the physical presence of Members and staff in the Capitol, by formalizing a new system for submission of documents related to Floor action,” she wrote.

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“Beginning Tuesday, staff must electronically submit all Floor documents – including bills, resolutions, co-sponsors and extensions of remarks – to a dedicated and secure email system, rather than deliver these materials by hand to staff in the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms. At this time, Members may still drop off materials in person,” she continued.

Pelosi informed members that they would be able to submit the documents electronically when the lower chamber is in a pro forma session and during a 15-minute window before and after the session begins.

“This upcoming week’s pro forma sessions will be held Tuesday at 11:30 AM E.T. and Friday at 9:00 AM E.T. Pro forma sessions for the remainder of the month are expected to follow a similar schedule,” she continued. “Later today, the Clerk’s Office will send out detailed guidance on where and how to submit materials.”

Pelosi said the new policy is expected to remain effective through April 19, but noted that it could be extended “if continued disruption of House operations remains necessary due to the pandemic.”

“Normal practice for Floor submissions will resume once the House returns full-time to the Capitol for regular business,” she wrote.

The House is on recess after passing a third coronavirus relief package, but top Democrats are aiming to bring a phase four stimulus bill to the floor at the end of the month.