While much focus the past two days has been on the $3 trillion, 1,800 page partisan wish list jammed through by House Democrats last night, what you haven’t heard as much about is the unconstitutional rule change they rammed through on a strictly party line vote as well.
For the first time in history, the House rules were changed without any consultation with the minority party. In addition to being unconstitutional, this sets a very bad precedent for the institution as a whole.
What’s the rule change? It allows Speaker Pelosi to vote for other members of the House without having a quorum present. (The absence of a quorum is the unconstitutional part.) It only takes 20 Democrats now for business to be conducted on the House floor. What does this really mean? It means all 198 Republicans can show up, but lose on every vote with just 20 Democrats there. How? Because Pelosi can vote in place of her members that are back home.
Without question this is an unprecedented time and there are members that are more susceptible to the lethality of COVID-19 than others. However, this kind of fundamental change to the rules of the House, which have been in place for more than two centuries, should be made on a bi-partisan basis. Instead the Speaker is using this crisis to further consolidate her own power. The House has proven that we can cast our votes and conduct our business in person and do it safely.
Every day, our essential workers like health care professionals, police officers and firefighters are still doing their jobs. Congress should be in Washington doing theirs too.
Here’s today’s update:
- Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo announced yesterday that the city would be moving into the next phase of its coronavirus reopening process, and that several emergency restrictions have been lifted. Specifically:
- Hotels and Motels will now be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity for allowable activity. Under the Governor’s current orders, hotels and motels should not be opened for the leisure travel market.
- Outside team sports facilities are now allowed to open for up to 2 on 2 players.
- Country clubs and social clubs are allowed to re-open, but must adhere to the Governor’s Executive Order which states gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed.
- More information on the city’s Facebook page available here.
- North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has issued updated guidance on who should be tested for COVID-19. The new guidance recommends that clinicians test any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected. The new guidance recommends clinicians ensure certain populations have access to testing, regardless of symptoms, including:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
- Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms
- Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
- Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
- Persons who come from historically marginalized populations
- Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
- Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
- The CDC has posted streamlined guidance charts for decisions about reopening a series of different facilities, including workplaces, bars and restaurants, childcare facilities and schools. More information available here.
- Important information for farmers and ranchers: visit the USDA’s Farmers.gov website for more information about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will use direct support to producers and the Food Box Distribution Program to help our farm families through the crisis.
- Save the Date: Johnston County and the Johnston County Veterans Council will be hosting a Memorial Day Virtual Ceremony on Monday, May 25th at 11:00 a.m. Join them for a live stream via facebook.com/jocogovNC. A Facebook account is not required to watch.
For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting the students, faculty, staff and parents of Wayne County Community College, who managed to make this year’s graduation special despite the outbreak by holding a drive-through celebration to pick up their diplomas, degrees and certificates. View the photos here.
As always, stay tuned to Coronavirus.gov and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak.