House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday urging her to fully reopen the chamber nearly 15 months after it shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 136 of the 211 members in the House GOP caucus signed the letter, which was led by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., ranking member on the Committee on House Administration.
As of Tuesday morning, House office buildings remained closed to the general public, the Capitol was closed for tours, members could continue to proxy vote, and many hearing rooms were closed.
"The positive impact of increasing vaccination rates and decreasing cases of COVID-19 are clear to see," the letter said. "Businesses are open, sporting venues and cultural institutions have welcomed back fans and visitors, and restrictions have been lifted.
"On June 11, Washington D.C. fully reopened and lifted the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the United States Capitol and the People’s House have failed to do the same."
The lawmakers then told Pelosi, "it is time for you to reopen the House and get back to serving the American people."
The letter said Congress’ attending physician could not provide clear metrics or a target percentage of vaccinations to fully reopen the House, and added he would defer to Pelosi to make such decisions.
"This comes as no surprise given the discrepancies between guidance issued to the Senate compared to guidance issued to the House throughout the pandemic, which has clearly shown that public health and science are not the driving factors in these decisions," the GOP lawmakers said. "Furthermore, there has been a clear lack of leadership exhibited by the Majority that has led to a piecemeal approach to partial reopening by legislative branch entities, some of whom have no formal plan to reopen at all.
"No legislative branch entity, other than the U.S. Capitol Police, is fully in-person and no legislative branch entity is fully open to the public."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., were among the lawmakers who signed the letter.
On Friday, Congress' attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan updated the pandemic rules for the House to say masks no longer were required to be worn on the floor of the House.
Last month, McCarthy and the House Republican doctors attempted to make the chamber follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance for wearing masks.
McCarthy and the House GOP Doctors Caucus introduced a privileged resolution to force a vote on changing the House mask policy to reflect the CDC’s newest guidance that said it was OK for vaccinated Americans to ditch their masks indoors in most settings.
The House voted 218-210 to kill McCarthy's resolution.
Pelosi had said she would not update the House rules to match the updated CDC guidelines, and added lawmakers could resume normal life more quickly if more of House Republicans got vaccinated.
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