For Republicans, the confirmation of a new head of national intelligence, several lifetime courts and a smattering of coronavirus hearings has been worthwhile. They did not approve new storage for coronavirus, even though they say the day is coming. At a minimum, they expect to loosen the restrictions on small business support when they return in June.
There has also been something favorable for the GOP about resuming three-week party lunches at a distance in the Hart Building. McConnell manages his cuckoo by listening to his members, and the lunches have been important strategy sessions. President Donald Trump has even attended a pep rally.
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Democrats say it is not worth the risk to meet in person and that Republicans miscalculate their health. Democrats are holding party meetings through conference calls or chatting with each other over Zoom and refusing to embrace Republicans’ attempts to resume their old habits. Not being able to see their colleagues in the normal settings makes their work less satisfactory, they say.
“Given the risks they run, that anyone can get sick of this? I think it’s not a smart move on the part of Republicans, “said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Sen. Joe Manchin said that a decision to resume cuckoo meetings personally remains “on ice” and that “Democrats will be very cautious” until there is some form of treatment or mitigation of the deadly disease.
The West Virginia Moderate does most of his work outside his office hiding place and calls on his communications director and a technician to help him navigate the complexities of being both a real and virtual senator. Manchin’s story is typical: most senators walk without their usual aides, spraying hand sanitizer on their hands as they roam the Capitol. Warren has made the effort to record his own interviews and send them to his spokeswoman.
“If we’re going to be careful and safe, we just can’t do the things we traditionally did,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “But for a couple of votes on the floor, I can sit at home in Springfield or Chicago and do exactly the same thing I do.”