The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a host of issues and unique challenges. As we move take measures to combat the virus, more Americans are being diagnosed with the coronavirus. From actor Tom Hanks to NBA player Rudy Gobert to the Fusco family, people from all walks of life are grappling with the effects of the deadly virus.
State governments are rapidly implementing lockdown measures. The governors of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana and New York are leading the charge to shelter in place and many towns across the country are enacting voluntary curfews in a bid to slow the spread.
Social distancing has become the new buzzword. Public shaming is in full effect as stories of defiant spring breakers and those disregarding CDA recommendations to limit groups to ten or less people are highlighted by the media.
Currently, the Senate is working around the clock to pass the third phase in coronavirus related legislation. Trillions of dollars and policy debate over the best way to give Americans immediate financial relief aside, the Senate rule requiring lawmakers to vote in person has come under fire.
Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have resisted calls to allow members to vote without being physically present. Leader McConnell has lengthened the time of votes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and advised senators not to congregate on the floor. Speaker Pelosi has asked for a report to be done on the possibility of remote voting.
Voting in the chamber has both symbolic and accountability implications. Our republic has never allowed remote voting. But it is an issue under discussion now.
On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul confirmed he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Senators Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Cory Gardner, Mike Lee, Mitt Romney have all self quarantined after possible exposure.
Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams tested positive for the virus last week.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the average age of members of the 116th Congress is 57.6 in the House and 62.9 in the Senate.
Senators are in the high-risk category due to their age. While members and their staffs have closed their offices and curtailed their public engagements, the number of senators self-quarantining is cause for alarm. The irony of senators not available to vote on the coronavirus relief bill has caused people to consider breaking a rule that has never been broken.