January 22, 2021

US Congress abandons return to Washington after lawmakers revolt

The US House of Representatives will not reconvene next week following a revolt from lawmakers who complained that it was too soon to return.

On Monday, members were told to return to the Democratic-controlled chamber.

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday the plan was scrapped after consulting the House doctor.

The Republican-controlled Senate still plans to return on 4 May.

“We made a judgement that we will not come back next week but that we hope to come back very soon,” Mr Hoyer said.

Washington DC remains under a stay-at-home order until 15 May. Officials say the infection rate is still climbing.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington DC have passed 13,600 and 764 people have died.

Democrat leaders were faced with a backlash from members of their own party over the plans to return next week.

On a private call with House members, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from Florida, told party leaders the plan was “dangerous” and several complained that they had no way of managing childcare, according to the Politico US media outlet.

However, there is pressure to reconvene the chamber in order to pass key legislation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The questions over how to reopen Congress for business are likely to renew calls for proxy sessions and remote voting, said BBC North America correspondent Anthony Zurcher. Currently, rules prevent members of Congress from voting remotely, though there are efforts to change.

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