McCarthy lays out plan to reopen Congress

McCarthy lays out plan to reopen Congress
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts MORE (R-Calif.) released a plan Monday to reopen the House amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The top House Republican, along with Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHouse GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House conservatives voice concerns over minority rights during remote hearings House Rules Committee approves remote voting during pandemic MORE (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve MORE (R-Ill.), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, offered four strategies as part of the plan

“This pandemic has claimed too many lives and livelihoods already. We must not allow the institution we are tasked with safeguarding to be the next,” the GOP members wrote. 

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The Republicans said that the House should modify its existing practices and structures to allow for the chamber to reconvene amid the pandemic. 

The Republicans also said physical distancing protocols to reduce density in the House should be expanded. And they suggest assessing House office buildings and possibly creating temporary barriers, for example plexiglass dividers, to help physical distancing in areas where it is “difficult to achieve.” 

Their plan calls for a phased return with committees. Committees should present an outline to the majority leader detailing projected business meetings from the month ahead as well as with estimated attendance levels, the Republicans said. 

The information could be used to create a staggered business calendar, with rotating use of larger committee hearing rooms where necessary, they added. Precedence, the GOP lawmakers said, should be given to bipartisan COVID-19 response measures.

The Republicans also suggested that a more hesitant “crawl, walk, run” approach toward deploying the use of technology for committee business. 

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They said a proposal from Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that would allow for a form of remote floor voting and virtual committee hearings is “concerning for a variety of reasons.” 

“Before we rush to discard over 200 years of precedent, we should require that rigorous testing standards be met, ample feedback be provided, and bipartisan rules of the road be agreed upon and made public to truly safeguard minority rights,” they said. 

The Republicans also said that active risk mitigation practices should be accelerated, including the possibility of temperature checks at office entry points. 

A spokesperson for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' Federal aid to state and local governments should rely on real numbers MORE’s (D-Calif.) office was not immediately available for comment in response to the GOP plan.  Pelosi last week said the House may return to session as soon as the week of May 11.

Senators returned to the Capitol on Monday.