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McConnell lengthening votes, encouraging social distancing amid coronavirus

McConnell lengthening votes, encouraging social distancing amid coronavirus
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said that he will lengthen upcoming votes on the House coronavirus package and encouraged senators to avoid congregating on the floor.

“We want to avoid congregating here in the well. I would encourage our colleagues to come and vote and depart the chamber so we don’t have gaggles of conversations here on the floor,” McConnell said.

The guidance is a stark contrast from the normally clubby atmosphere on the Senate floor where lawmakers frequently circulate amongst their colleagues and linger to talk in pairs or large groups.

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McConnell is also lengthening the votes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. 

“So I would encourage everyone, take full advantage of a full 30-minute roll call vote. Come in and vote and leave and be aware of the social distancing,” McConnell said, adding that if they followed his guidance they would be able to vote without “violating any of the safety precautions.”

The changes to Senate voting come amid growing concerns about a widespread outbreak on the coronavirus. The concern is particularly acute on Capitol Hill because of the advanced age of many lawmakers. 

Several lawmakers have self-quarantined after interacting with individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Senate Democrats have also held their leadership and caucus meetings this week by conference call.

But McConnell shot down the idea of remote voting Tuesday. 

"We'll not be doing that. There are a number of different ways to avoid getting too many people together," McConnell told reporters.