McConnell rejects remote voting

McConnell rejects remote voting
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks 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. 

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"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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Negotiators signal relief bill stuck, not dead White House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate MORE (Ill.), have floated changing the Senate’s process to allow for remote committee hearings and even remote voting. 

Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharCalifornia Dems back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE is looking at that for us,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers push Trump to restore full funding for National Guards responding to pandemic Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters. Klobuchar (Minn.) is the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee. 

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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.