House to vote on DC statehood, gender pay gap

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
Greg Nash

The House will vote this month on legislation to make Washington, D.C., a state and to address the gender pay gap, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday.

Hoyer in a memo to lawmakers outlining the legislative agenda said the House will first consider two worker protection bills that Democrats previously passed in the last session of Congress: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bar employers from inquiring about prospective employees’ salaries and ban retaliation against employees who compare wages, and a bill requiring health care employers to develop workplace violence prevention plans.

The following week, the House will vote again on legislation to grant statehood to the District of Columbia and on legislation to prevent another travel ban like the one enacted by former President Trump against several majority-Muslim countries.

Hoyer further said that the House might vote on legislation to address hate crimes against Asian Americans, including the shootings last month at spas in the Atlanta area, where most of the victims were Asian women.

President Biden has endorsed a bill from Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) that would establish a position at the Justice Department to expedite reviews of coronavirus-related hate crimes and establish online reporting of hate crimes.

“It is clear that the House will have to take further action in the coming weeks,” Hoyer wrote.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the House has enacted changes to voting procedures in accordance with public health guidelines. The changes include extending the time allotted for each floor vote to allow for social distancing, requiring masks and allowing proxy voting to accommodate members who can’t travel to Washington to vote in person.

In recent weeks, House Democratic leaders have capped the length of each floor vote to 45 minutes. But Hoyer said in his memo on Tuesday that starting next week, each vote will be reduced to 30 minutes while maintaining all of the other COVID-19 precautions.

Before the pandemic, the first vote in a series typically took about 30 minutes, while subsequent votes took about five minutes as members remained together in the chamber.

“With many members and a growing number of staff and Capitol workers now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and with safety measures like mandatory mask-wearing and proxy voting remaining in place, we can begin a graduated return to normal voting procedures,” Hoyer wrote.

As of last month, about 75 percent of House members had received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Capitol physician’s office. Vaccine distribution has also been opened to congressional staff in the last few weeks.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 DC statehood Donald Trump Gender pay gap Grace Meng Joe Biden Steny Hoyer

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