And here we thought they ran for office to actually lead. In an interview with Politico, Nancy Pelosi warned Donald Trump against reopening businesses too soon, even though the federal government has no real authority to shut them down in the first place. Pelosi also announced that she won’t be re-opening the House any time soon either, certainly not by their April 20 return date:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Thursday that the House is unlikely to return to session later this month, her clearest indication yet that Congress — like the rest of the country — could remain shuttered for weeks or even longer as the coronavirus crisis continues.
In a half-hour interview, Pelosi issued a stark warning to President Donald Trump, urging him not to prematurely rush to reopen major segments of the country before the coronavirus is under control, which she said could further send the U.S. economy into a tailspin.
“Nobody can really tell you that and I would never venture a guess. I certainly don’t think we should do it sooner than we should,” Pelosi said when asked if she still planned to bring the House back on April 20, which is the current target date.
“This has taken an acceleration from when we started this…Little did we know then that at this point, we’d be further confined.”
Little did she know? The last time Pelosi and Mitch McConnell had quorums on Capitol Hill, the country was already in full lockdown and Congress spent $2.2 trillion to buffer its economic impact. At that time, as at several times in recent weeks prior to that point, people urged both leaders to change their rules and allow for Congress to operate remotely. Both refused to do so, claiming that it was unnecessary and that they could be recalled if needed. Pelosi’s new position is that she won’t recall them at all.
Now we have a situation where the “people’s branch” of government has taken a powder in a national emergency. In its place are chamber leaders attempting to rule by decree in their own fashion via bogus “unanimous consent” tricks that only exacerbate the maximalist urges of both parties in negotiations. Thomas Massie took a lot of well-deserved criticism for throwing sand in the gears of the CARES Act and forcing that last return of Congress by objecting to unanimous consent, but he’s being proven prescient by Pelosi and McConnell now. Americans didn’t elect two people to legislate all on their own.
Congress, to put it mildly, is an essential business in constitutional governance. In a national emergency, they need to show up and do their damned jobs. Doctors, nurses, the armed forces, the National Guard, police, paramedics, firefighters, and even grocery-store workers and restaurateurs are showing up to their jobs in this national emergency. Shouldn’t we expect the same or more from our elected officials?
Pelosi and McConnell need to get their members back to Washington now. If those don’t want to do those jobs any more, then they should resign and be replaced by people who are more willing to lead in times of crisis. And if Pelosi and McConnell are reluctant to do that, even just to settle how to operate remotely in a national emergency, then Trump should start demanding it publicly — every day, in his coronavirus briefings — by asking, “Where’s Congress?”
Addendum: Not that I’d expect the media to adopt this policy, but they shouldn’t give any political oxygen to members of Congress who aren’t leading in a national crisis, as I pointed out on Twitter this morning:
Is she in Washington working on the solution? No? Then she should shut the hell up until she and the rest of Congress (Dems & GOP alike) start doing their jobs. They’re not getting paid to be color commentators from the sidelines. https://t.co/WeZcQOPSAq
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) April 10, 2020
Don’t let them feign leadership by spouting off from recess.