President Joe Biden will give his first address to Congress as commander in chief on Wednesday, but according to a New York Post report, increasing numbers of Republicans appear poised to miss it.
The timing is a big part of the issue: On Wednesday, the Senate will be in session but the House will not. Many members of the lowqr chamber, back home in their districts and taking part in committee work virtually, find themselves in a bind, said the Post.
Logistics for the speech were being overseen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Several Republican lawmakers have asked Pelosi to reconsider a time when both the Senate and the House are in session.
According to the New York Post, Rep. Claudia Tenney wrote a letter to Pelosi about the timing of the event. Tenney also asked that Pelosi allow all members to attend, instead of inviting only some from each party in the name of pandemic-appropriate social distancing:
“In our nation’s history, it is unprecedented to convene a joint session of Congress such as this without extending an invitation to all Members of Congress. We understand the need to prioritize the safety of Members and believe strongly that with the right precautions and social distancing measures a space designed to accommodate almost 1,000 individuals can operate at about 50 percent capacity to safely accommodate all members of the House and Senate who attend.”
Pelosi has not responded to the letter.
Invites for the event, evenly distributed between Democrats and Republicans, are being doled out by the leader of each caucus, a Capitol Hill official told The Post.
What’s more, though, Punchbowl News reported this week that a considerable number of lawmakers, asked if they wanted to attend, said no or offered no answer at all.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican and member of the party leadership, replied when asked if she planned to go, the Post article said. “I don’t think I’ll probably attend.”
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Sen. Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri said in a similar vein, the Post said. “I haven’t decided.”
Some Republicans did express a desire to go, though.
Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said, “I don’t agree with his policies, but he’s a fine man.”
“I would frankly prefer to go. I think the whole House should be there,” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was quoted as saying. “He’s supposed to be talking to Congress.”
Story cited here.