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McCarthy lays out plan to reopen Congress

McCarthy lays out plan to reopen Congress
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 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 ColeThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide Bottom line MORE (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Democratic Rep. Carbajal tests positive for COVID-19 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 PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate 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.