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Congress needs to take coronavirus more seriously

As parts of the country grind to a halt, it’s on Congress to marshal a major economic package to help the country through this health and economic crisis.

But just like everywhere else, the halls of Congress are not safe from the virus. And it doesn’t appear there’s much of an option for at-risk members to work remotely, like so many other Americans.

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt today rejected growing calls among members to change the rules so members can vote remotely.

“Not going to happen. The speaker doesn’t want to do it. The leader doesn’t want it to do it. It’s not going to happen. We are going to continue to vote in person,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju.

But clearly there are logistical issues for voting in-person, even with adjustments.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would “deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing the Senate rules.” That meant the Senate could stretch out the period of a roll call vote to limit the number of people on the floor at any one time.

The risk is already here. Two members tested positive yesterday. More than two dozen have been in self-quarantine as a precaution. And social distancing is proving difficult in the halls of Congress (even if tour groups are banned).

The Point: It’s on Congress to help guide the country through this crisis, but members must be able to do so safely.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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