DEMOCRATS NEW MEMBER DINNER CANCELLED

DEMOCRATS NEW MEMBER DINNER CANCELLED

Democrats abandon indoor Capitol meal for new House members after photo raises eyebrows

DEMOCRATS NEW MEMBER DINNER CANCELLED

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that lawmakers would continue to vote long distance, citing concerns about the coronavirus — but newly elected members were still set to eat together indoors.

Democrats’ plans for a meal at a stately hall in the Capitol building raised eyebrows Friday after a journalist’s tweet, though Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted the arrangement would be safe and “very spaced.” Earlier in the day — with infections and hospitalizations surging nationwide — Pelosi had emphasized that a vaccine breakthrough should give people “hope” but urged people to “listen to science” and heed guidance including “isolation” and “separation.”

By evening, the new members event was changed to grab-and-go. The House’s newest legislators were already in the capital for an orientation like no other, filled with masks and new precautions.

“Our office strictly follows the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, including for this dinner,” tweeted Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. “To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner.”

Hammill emphasized later, as members picked up boxed meals and left, that there would be “no group dinner.” Republicans will also have a new members dinner, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries about their plans.


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