Dear Colleague on Combating the Coronavirus
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Today, sadly our country passed the 50,000 mark of those who have lost their lives from the coronavirus. We are all shaken by that statistic, and we are all prayerful for the families affected.
Yesterday, the House passed, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the interim coronavirus relief package – a package greatly expanded and improved by the leadership of our committee chairs, Nydia Velázquez of Small Business, Maxine Waters of Financial Services and Frank Pallone of Energy and Commerce.
Thank you to our Caucus for being such strong voices to enable us to secure:
- A more inclusive Paycheck Protection Program and urgently needed emergency loans and grants for our small businesses;
- $75 billion desperately needed by hospitals and health care workers; and,
- $25 billion for testing and requiring a national strategy which addresses racial, ethnic and geographic disparities.
Yesterday, we also made progress by passing the legislation establishing the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the purpose of which is to ensure oversight of the nearly $3 trillion in expenditures for the coronavirus response. My thanks to our distinguished Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for bringing his great record of leadership to serve as chairman.
Many thanks to the Attending Physician and Sergeant-at-Arms for making the participation of so many Members on the Floor possible in a safe way.
I want to give you an update on plans for Member participation going forward. Last month, I asked Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern to develop a full report on remote voting, which he completed on March 23. This report was put forth to the whole House with the request for Member comment. I also asked Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the Committee on House Administration, to assess the capabilities and vulnerabilities of various technology options.
Last week, Chairman McGovern set forth his recommendation for remote voting by proxy and ways to operate committees, which was supported by Chair Lofgren. This week, I conveyed the interest in our Caucus in remote voting by proxy to Republican Leader McCarthy. Our view is not shared by all in Congress. We have agreed that Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Leader McCarthy, Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern and Ranking Member Tom Cole and House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Rodney Davis confer this week about remote voting and also how committees will function. Leader McCarthy has told me and confirmed to the press that “I made a commitment to her that we would be able to look at that and get to that point.”
Recognizing the need for your engagement, I have asked Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Vice Chair Katherine Clark for time on a conference call in the days ahead to hear your views as we consider remote voting by proxy and how committees proceed.
Thank you for your ongoing attention to the important policy debate and your involvement in how Congress can function at this challenging time.