House members to follow social distancing rules during coronavirus relief package vote

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered details on how the House would vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief package while practicing “social distancing” so lawmakers don’t catch the virus.

The Senate late Wednesday night unanimously passed the bill, which is now set to be cleared by the House and sent to President Trump for his signature. McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters Thursday it can pass by voice vote.

“We have members on both sides of the aisle who have the virus. We have members who are quarantined,” McCarthy said when asked whether his members were all on board with the massive spending bill. “We have members who have challenges with airlines that are getting their flights canceled. So I think there will be enough [members] to make sure we get this through.”

While the voice vote Friday will not require all members to be on the floor, McCarthy said the setup in the chamber will be different than the usual churn of lawmakers backslapping and shaking hands.

Microphones will not be in the well of the floor, as social distancing rules dictate, and lawmakers should aim to avoid getting too close to clerks sitting in the House rostrum. Additionally, another microphone will be removed, so those managing the bill will be further away.

“Members can’t sit next to each other. And as one person speaks, you’re going to have to come back and clean. So, if a member wants to come on the floor, they can’t sit next to each other, but they can’t be moving in and out. We’ll have to clean the area of where they are,” McCarthy told reporters at his weekly press briefing.

“They’ll enter in one door, and you’ll have to leave another. We want to make sure we’re providing the health for everybody else inside to make sure government’s working. So, there will be more than enough. There was more than enough time to debate. There’s more than enough time to review the bill. And it should not be delayed getting to the president’s desk for this week,” he said.

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