While the country is dealing with a global pandemic and working to ensure Americans are safe, one Democrat seems more worried about where members are sleeping.
California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier is not happy about lawmakers sleeping in their own offices at the Capitol during the pandemic — and she wants it banned.
In a letter to the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol’s attending physician, Speier complained that having members live in their congressional offices is a health risk during the pandemic.
She said at least 17 members of a construction crew on the Cannon House Office Building had the virus and claimed that was enough of a reason to ban members from sleeping in their offices.
“If members slept in their offices during this time, they likely had a greater chance of exposure and exacerbated the public health risk of coronavirus. This is reason enough for the [Architect of the Capitol] to review its existing health and safety policies,” she wrote in the letter.
“As such, I urge a permanent ban on members sleeping in their offices. I hope the Architect of the Capitol, in conjunction with the House Physician, take steps to ameliorate this situation,” Speier added.
Rep. Jackie Speier says it’s time to ban members of Congress from sleeping in their offices — saying buildings on Capitol Hill are not designed to be “homeless shelters” for lawmakers.https://t.co/LLDNKKNB11
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) May 4, 2020
Speier called the practice of living in the office “unprofessional, unhygienic, and even unethical,” adding, “House offices were never intended to become homeless shelters for members, and it is high time we stop tolerating the practice.
There’s no formal count of how many lawmakers essentially live in their offices, but Speier estimated the total is 50 to 100.
The cost of living in Washington, D.C., is higher than in many American cities, and some members who spend weekdays in Washington room together or live in their offices while using the House gym for showers as a way to save money. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did so, as has House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. A member of Congress makes $174,000 per year.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about his current living arrangements. But in an interview with Politico on Monday, McCarthy discussed possible precautions that could accommodate members sleeping in their offices during the pandemic, without touching on his own situation.
“When you’re dealing with living in offices, if they’re going to be in the office themselves, I think you probably have to change the aspect of the number of staff that can come in,” McCarthy said. “You’re going to have to deal with much fewer staff, or I’m not sure you’re going to have that many at all.”
This is just another example of Democrats worrying about the wrong things during the pandemic.
Many would agree it has nothing to do with actually combating the coronavirus, protecting the American people, and getting the economy back on track.