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Congress crisis: Pandemic threatens Capitol Hill

Congress crisis: Pandemic threatens Capitol Hill

by Sean Higgins | Washington Examiner  |  Published on March 18, 2020

Congress needs to act quickly to pass whatever legislation is necessary to counter the coronavirus crisis in part because the pandemic threatens its own ability to function properly.

There aren’t clear procedures or plans in place for the possibility that many members become unable to return to Capitol Hill, as has already happened in several cases, raising the prospect of congressional powerlessness and constitutional confusion.

A dozen members of Congress already have said they would self-quarantine because they had been exposed to the virus.

Should that number swell or other concerns prevent lawmakers from returning to work, it could leave Congress unable to function, said John Fortier, the director of Governmental Studies at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Under the longstanding rules of both chambers, members have to be physically present to conduct official business. McConnell said Tuesday he wasn’t interested in changing the rules.

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