House Takes Social Distancing Steps for Legislative Paperwork

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In a Dear Colleague letter to House members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members that the House is taking additional action to limit physical presence in the Capitol by formalizing electronic submissions for floor documents.

“Beginning [today], staff must electronically submit all Floor documents – including bills, resolutions, co-sponsors and extensions of remarks – to a dedicated and secure email system, rather than deliver these materials by hand to staff in the Speaker’s Lobby or Cloakrooms,” Speaker Pelosi wrote.

Speaker Pelosi told House members that the new policy will be in place through April 19, and could be extended beyond that date should House operations continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The House is in recess until April 20.

The House has been trying in recent weeks to limit the physical presence of its members and staff since the pandemic forced stay-at-home orders in numerous states. On March 18, 50 members of Congress signed a letter to House leadership in support of remote voting on legislation.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is on the record against remote voting in the Senate. “We will not be doing that,” the senator said on March 17, adding, “We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing the Senate rules.”

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