The halls of Capitol Hill, specifically the U.S. Senate, are slightly more alive for the first time in over a month. This week, the Senate came into session, held votes, and convened its first socially distanced hearing, all before Wednesday.
The attire is also a little different these days. Though not required, most folks are wearing facemasks. Some senators are donning themed masks, including Sen. Richard Shelby, from Alabama, who wore his alma mater University of Alabama fabric, and Sen. Richard Burr, from North Carolina, who wore University of North Carolina fabric.
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema donned a pink bobbed wig and a bright green tank top-style dress to cast her first vote back. According to local Arizona reporter Brahm Resnik, Sinema’s office said she wore the $12.99 wig to set an “example of social distancing from hair salons.” The senator, who is notorious for pushing the decorum rules of the Senate, normally has super blonde hair.
Senate food services are very limited. The barbershop is closed. Tours are not allowed. And the public cannot enter the complex, unless escorted inside by congressional staff.
Despite the Office of the Attending Physician not having enough COVID-19 test kits for all 100 senators, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky called members back to Washington to honor their “constitutional duty to the American people and conduct our business in person.”
The House of Representatives is at home.
House Democrats are working on another COVID-19 relief package. Lawmakers have been teasing the press with their liberal wish list of items to include in the legislation. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from California told her caucus to “think big” on policy ideas.
The next legislative package must come from the House. Sen. McConnell has been reluctant to take up such a bill so quickly after passing the first massive package. He told Politico, “I’m not saying there’s not going to be another bill ... You just passed $3 trillion. You want to make sure that’s implemented and implemented correctly.” McConnell also doesn’t want to write checks to states that have not managed their finances well prior to COVID-19.
So, that leaves the Senate to go about its regular business, including vetting and voting on President Donald Trump’s nominees. This includes an Intelligence Committee hearing with Congressman John Ratcliffe from Texas, who is Trump’s pick for the director of National Intelligence.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will testify before the Senate on May 12.
Trump barred Fauci from testifying before the House, because he says, “The House is a bunch of Trump haters.” A hearing in the House would be a complete circus.
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.