House opts not to meet in person next week; plans underway to ensure safe return to Capitol

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The U.S. House has canceled its plans to return to Washington next week after a Capitol physician recommended lawmakers stay away until they finalize plans for telework and maintaining social distancing during hearings, debates and votes.

Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York, said he would much rather have the House conduct the work of the people in person in the nation’s capital.

“You can’t tell me that we can’t figure out a way for Congress to go back to Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Reed is the co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. He said the group has been devising a plan that would allow lawmakers to safely return to the Capitol.

“Twenty-five Democrats and 25 Republicans are going to initiate a virtual Congress to show that you can do this, then we’ll open it up to other members that want to participate,” Reed said.

But Reed warned that handing over proxy votes to the party leadership gives too much power to too few lawmakers.

“You can’t have four people making decisions for 320 million people,” Reed said.

Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-New York, said lawmakers should be able to use technology to legislate, adding that “it is the 21st century.”

“It is a change in conduct, and tradition, which as you might imagine takes some will, as well,” Delgado said.

Despite the House action, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the Senate will be back on May 4.

“I think Mitch McConnell is taking a huge risk with the well being of a lot of the members who work in this office along with our staff,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said.

Reed said the Problem Solvers Caucus plans to meet virtually next week.

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