House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is turning the House of Representatives into a potential coronavirus hotspot, allowing Democrats to break quarantine to vote in the speakership election as she faces a tough battle for another term atop the chamber.
At least three members, according to congressional reporter John Bresnahan, are breaking quarantine to attend swearing-in ceremonies and the all-important speakership election Sunday. Two of them are Democrats, he revealed, and one is a Republican. In addition to those three comes Rep. Gwen Moore (D-FL), attending the vote to back Pelosi after testing positive for the deadly virus just six days ago.
NEW – 3 members who are still in Covid quarantine will be allowed to cast a today, per a statement from Brian Monohan. 2 Dems, 1 R. They will cast vote in special area in House gallery. This shows stakes of today’s Speaker vote. Members not named in statement
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) January 3, 2021
Who knew that the most "essential activity" of all was ensuring that Nancy Pelosi retains the House of Representatives as her personal fiefdom for a fourth term https://t.co/41yBrRw4qL
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 3, 2021
UPDATE: Rep. Gwen Moore WILL BE attending the House swearing in and Speaker vote in person today. She announced on Monday (six days ago) that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
— Kristin Wilson (@kristin__wilson) January 3, 2021
A senior GOP congressional aide ripped Pelosi, calling the decision to bring these coronavirus risks into the House solely to secure a second term as Speaker a “speakership election super spreader event.”
“Nancy Pelosi’s grip on the speakership is so tenuous that she is forcing members exposed to coronavirus to break quarantine and come to the Capitol to vote for her and protect her political power,” the senior GOP aide told Breitbart News.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, also ripped Pelosi for the matter:
/3 @RodneyDavis, top R on the House Administration Cmte, is very upset about this “Popemobile” built in the House Gallery for quarantined members. He says the “only reason this is happening is because Speaker Pelosi needs to be re-elected speaker.” “It’s shameful.”
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) January 3, 2021
A source familiar with the matter said later on Sunday that House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is likely to criticize Pelosi for it as well.
The speaker’s office provided a statement from the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, to Breitbart News in response to an inquiry on this matter.
It read in part:
Upon the direction of the Office of Attending Physician and the House Sergeant at Arms, a secure enclosure has been erected in Gallery 4 of the House Chamber to allow Members who are in quarantine status to fulfill their Constitutional duties,” Monahan said in the statement. “Under federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), essential workers, in order to ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, are permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. The highest possible safeguards have been implemented including separate, enhanced ventilation in this space and separate holding facilities for any Members utilizing Gallery 4. This step will only be necessary until proxy voting resumes as an option for impacted Members.
In addition, a U.S. Capitol official added that these people are in “quarantine status,” a condition of which is a recent negative coronavirus test.
“The Members using this facility are two Democrats and one Republican all at the direction of the physician,” the U.S. Capitol official said.
Pelosi’s decision to put members of Congress at risk comes after Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died last week of a heart attack during a surgical procedure while hospitalized for the coronavirus. Letlow was 41 years old. It also comes as Rep.-elect Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) was hospitalized just before Christmas with the disease.
Pelosi faces a tough vote to get re-elected as speaker. She needs to win a majority of those present and voting for a person. She will lose at least some Democrats, like Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), in her bid for re-election. But after Democrats lost a significant amount of seats in the 2020 congressional election — something nobody in establishment media saw coming — the Democrat majority has been slimmed down to just a handful of seats.
With vacancies like Letlow’s seat in northern Louisiana, and absences like Salazar, along with some Democrat members who might vote “present” — therefore not voting for a person — it is unclear on Sunday exactly how many votes Pelosi must secure to win another term as Speaker.
But when the House is full, only five or six members — think the “squad” alone, just Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), or from the other side of the Democrat conference members like Spanberger — can stop Pelosi from passing legislation along party lines alone by banding together to vote against a bill or a rule. Similar logic applies to a speakership vote, putting the Democrat leader in a tough position.