Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday rejected the prospect of the chamber voting remotely in the event of a prolonged recess over the coronavirus.
“We’ll not be doing that. There are a number of different ways to avoid getting too many people together,” McConnell told reporters.
McConnell said potential changes to allow senators to avoid congregating on the Senate floor could be lengthening the amount of time allowed for a vote, or having senators come to the floor to vote individually or in pairs.
"We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing Senate rules," he added.
The question comes as the growing spread of the coronavirus has upended the congressional schedule.
The House is currently out of town. It’s unclear when they will return, with leadership indicating they could extend the break until there is a third coronavirus package ready.
Democrats, including Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill Bipartisan senators press FBI, inspector general for changes following Nassar case MORE (Ill.), have floated changing the Senate’s process to allow for remote committee hearings and even remote voting.
“Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharKlobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden renominates Powell as Fed chair MORE is looking at that for us,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers take aim at 'Grinches' using bots to target consumers during holidays Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters. Klobuchar (Minn.) is the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee.
Currently senators vote by coming to the floor and physically indicating to staff, frequently by the point of a finger, if they will support or oppose a measure or nominee.
Part of the concern on Capitol Hill is the age of the lawmakers; the coronavirus is thought to more severely impact older individuals.
The coronavirus is changing behavior on Capitol Hill in various ways. Senate Democrats have been holding leadership and caucus meetings by conference call. Senate Republicans have moved their gatherings to larger rooms in an effort to give lawmakers more space.