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McConnell rejects remote voting

McConnell rejects remote voting
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Progressives put Democrats on defense 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 DurbinDick DurbinBiden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap Chicago Police Union head calls Adam Toledo shooting 'justified,' says 'officer's actions actually heroic' Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (Ill.), have floated changing the Senate’s process to allow for remote committee hearings and even remote voting. 

Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee Lobbying world MORE is looking at that for us,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform 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.