Washington, DC, officials said Monday that House Republicans had received a waiver to hold a large meeting at a local hotel later this week in order to administer their leadership position elections in person.
While House Democrats said they planned to hold their leadership elections virtually this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, House Republicans have opted to meet in person, moving their gathering to a nearby Capitol Hill hotel, a Republican leadership staffer told CNN.
DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Chris Rodriguez told CNN that his department worked with the Office of the Attending Physician and the DC Health department in issuing the waiver to the Republicans.
“The work of Congress, as we’ve said before, is an essential function of government,” Rodriguez said, explaining that after the health department approved the plan, a waiver was issued.
DC’s Phase Two guidelines limit gatherings in hotels to 50 people. “Any meetings that occur should only include attendees from the National Capitol Region, and must be less than 50 individuals, including staff,” the guidance says.
Asked to weigh in on the matter, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, noted that her city is the seat of the federal government.
“There are 435 members of the House. There’s been an election. And those new members are reporting to town, and they have to be able to work,” Bowser said, going on to say that her government prefers when waivers are requested for such gatherings because it allows local agencies to weigh in appropriately, especially when commercial facilities are used.
Democrats are on track to hold on to enough seats to keep their majority in the US House of Representatives in the next Congress, CNN projected earlier this month, though Republicans are expected to gain seats.