GOP presses Nancy Pelosi to reopen House to the public, end COVID-19 rules that keep out citizens

GOP presses Nancy Pelosi to reopen House to the public, end COVID-19 rules that keep out citizens

House Republicans have introduced a resolution to reopen the U.S. Capitol to the public, including reopening the House gallery where visitors can observe lawmaking in action.

They said that businesses, stadiums, museums and nearly every statehouse across the country have reopened to the public, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi keeps the citizenry out of the House. 

“It has been 719 days since Speaker Pelosi closed the People’s House to the public. This far exceeds the amount of time of any prior closure over the course of the Capitol’s more than 200-year history,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint statement late Wednesday.

The resolution came after Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, lifted the mask mandate in the chamber on Tuesday for President Biden’s State of the Union address. It was introduced by Republican leadership and GOP lawmakers who serve on the Administration Committee that oversees the Capitol complex.

Additionally, the lawmakers said, the Senate is ahead of the House on reopening. The upper chamber first resumed limited tours months ago and decided to further expand access to public tours later this month.

“Just last night, the President himself said ‘COVID-19 need no longer control our lives’ before a crowd of hundreds of people in the House Chamber but that is not the reality on Capitol Hill,” the Republican lawmakers said. They added that “to truly serve the people, we must make this institution accessible to the public.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York and Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis of Illinois, Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin and Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia authored the resolution.

Last month, a handful of House Democrats began to break ranks and asked why the lower chamber was not open to the public yet.

Mrs. Pelosi has said her decision to shut down the Capitol to the public was in line with COVID-19 safety protocols from the Office of the Attending Physician.

She used the same reasoning when she shut down press access to the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House chamber where reporters and lawmakers meet. After being off-limits for more than a year, the area was reopened in June 2021, though still on a restricted basis.

Mr. McCarthy told The Washington Times that all COVID-related measures established by the Democratic majority, restricting access on the House side, will be repealed if the Republicans take the gavels in November. This includes restoring operations in the Speaker’s Lobby to the pre-pandemic conditions.

“We’re gonna open it up. We’ll bring people back to the people’s House,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Mrs. Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.