It seems the debate in Congress since April has been whether U.S. representatives and senators are, indeed, essential workers.

For more than five weeks, the COVID-19 crisis has all but closed Congress, a longer absence than during the 1918 Spanish flu.

Capitol Hill erupted late last week after the attending physician informed top GOP officials the health office did not have the means to perform instant virus tests on returning lawmakers or staff.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump himself offered Congress access to 1,000 instant virus tests similar to a system used to screen visitors to the White House.

But lawmakers declined, with Republican and Democratic leaders indicating they were wary of preferential treatment amid a national shortage of tests.

Trump tweeted Monday that Congress was essentially “saying that they are not ‘essential.’”

It sounds like that to us, too.

Why is it people who are classified as essential are showing up at their jobs daily to check out groceries, stock shelves, prepare takeout food, fix automobiles or, even more importantly, treat people who have the coronavirus — but not the people who craft the laws and policies of the United States?

The Senate, to its credit, convened Tuesday for the first time since March, while the House is staying away because of the health risks. That is not to say many representatives were not working. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed ahead Tuesday with the next coronavirus aid, a sweeping package that is expected to be unveiled soon even as the House stayed closed.

Last month, House Democrats proposed a temporary overhaul of House rules to permit lawmakers to cast votes by proxy for their colleagues, allowing them to go on record without leaving home during the coronavirus outbreak. Republicans pushed back, and the plan was shelved.

The simple truth is that Main Street America is hurting, badly hurting. Just when the country needs Congress to step up and take stronger steps to help people who are out of work and having trouble putting food on the table, representatives have been trying to figure out whether or not to go to their place of business. Even worse, they can’t seem to figure out how to work from home and cast meaningful votes.

The debate that should be on the table in Washington right now is how to help Main Street. Republicans are counting on a reopened economy to reduce the need for more aid.

With five weeks already lost, how much longer should people wait until the economy improves significantly? Most experts are saying it won’t be this year.

In the meantime, it appears we will just have to wait to see whether representatives can figure out how to get to their place of work or how to work from home before we get the answers about helping Main Street.

• Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com

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(17) comments

Carlos Ponce

"Most experts are saying it won’t be this year." Perhaps not but we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Bailey Jones

There's no reason that congress can't be doing their job remotely - as the Supreme Court is doing. Legislating is essentially just writing and deliberation, and both can easily be accomplished remotely with secure telecom apps. Certainly the buying and selling of members of congress by lobbyists needn't be hindered, as most funds are transferred electronically these days anyway.

Carlos Ponce

A toilet flushing was heard on the SCOTUS airing. A Supreme Court Justice or one of the lawyers testifying?

Ray Taft

What’s good for America is bad for Democrats. Do-nothing Democrats are purposely holding back our economic recovery.

It is obvious to everyone, except the MSM, who are the Democrats willing accomplices, that Speaker Nancy ‘I love my ice cream’ Pelosi is purposely keeping the House closed to harm America.

The Republican run Senate, is ready and willing - at least the Republicans there are - to help America.

So the answer to your question “When it comes to Congress, are they essential workers?” is obvious.

Do-nothing Democrats in Congress are not essential because Democrats, and their MSM accomplices, are doing everything possible to hurt and disparage our Country.

No matter what President Trump does or says, no matter how big a win, they report that it was a loss, or not good enough. They are the Enemy of the People!

jimmy winston

Ray, the do nothing republicans (who control most of the state and local governments for which you reside) have killed the economy. What I have learned in my 60 years of being a thinking person, is that the loudest voices often have the least to say. Let that sink in.

Ray Taft

Jimmy. What a leftist-Democrat alternate-reality tirade.

Duh! It’s the Democrats who don’t want to do anything. That’s why Pelosi is at home eating ice cream refusing to reopen the House.

Duh! Republicans are reopening Texas, while political-hack, do-nothing Democrats want it and the rest of America to stay shutdown.

jimmy winston

Sorry Ray, I live in the real world, where there are consequences to capitalism. The only thing you are scared of is the truth.

Carlos Ponce

I have to agree with Ray. The Democrats complain but do nothing. And they are being taken over by the socialist wing of the party. With socialism you lose your freedoms.

Kelly Naschke

Hard to believe that a political party would damage the country to get their power back....unfortunately we’re all watching it unfold like a bad movie.

Charles Douglas

Just heard that the Texas Supreme Court has ordered the Salon Owner from Dallas Tx. released from jail. She was jailed and charged a seven thousand dollar fine for wanting to feed her kids! Bravo! Bravo! Justice is coming out of hiding!

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup][thumbup]

Wayne D Holt

Dave, I share your deep concerns about the lack of progress. I want to see industriousness, cooperation toward a common goal and a commitment to persevere until the job is done.

So I bought an ant farm.

Diane Turski

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell only called the Senate back so he could confirm another one of his young proteges as a Federal Judge and confirm the unqualified John Ratcliffe as a new agency head. Based on McConnell's long history of putting his own business ahead of the people's business, I consider Senator McConnell and his Republican Senators to be non-essential!!

Carlos Ponce

"I consider Senator McConnell and his Republican Senators to be non-essential!!" Your opinion, not shared by your fellow Texans. I wonder if you are from somewhere else. Your views are not Texas views.

Charles Douglas

I love Big Mitch!!!! Lolo. I Love Trump Diesel too!

Charles Douglas

Just found out from those who have monitored recent overwhelming, and documented, declassified evidence that Samantha Powers, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, James Clapper, Susan Rice, and Lorreta Lynch, and others testified under oath behind closed doors that they were not aware of not a smidgen of evidence that Trump or anyone associated with his campaign was in any kind of collusion, or plot with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 elections! Yet, Comrade Adam Schiff, Comrade Big Jim Comey, Comrade Struzok, and his lover Lisa Page, vigorously perpetuated one lie after another to the American people that they had enough evidence on Trump to get him impeached! They lied on General Flynn, and broke him financially! This man, a three star General who served his country bravely and with distinction, had to sell his house to pay legal bills because of China sympathizers operating in our government with a mission to get rid of Trump by any means necessary! Now ....the die is cast, the chickens have come home to roost, the PIT they dug for Trump ... they all are falling in it, and the rocks they have thrown at Trump and his people,...have changed coarse... and are coming back to bash their collective heads in! All this ....and we are not finished yet!!!! Justice picked up her scales once again, and pulled her blind-fold back over her eyes,...it is time for retribution!

Ted Gillis

Donald Trump states in his Twitter that members of Congress are non-essential because they refuse to be tested.

If that is his criteria, then why can’t he get all of us essential workers that are going to work everyday tested? I certainly won’t refuse the offer.

People have spent all of this time staying home, social distancing, losing their incomes, and facing an uncertain future, and now all is supposed to be well.

What has the White House been doing for last 2 months, while we’ve waited. Nothing!

Where is the the big plan that the’ve had all this time to create one with? Nothing!

Just stupid press conferences promoting pillow makers and Hydro CoaCoa Puffs.

I’m tired of waiting on these guys to do something.

Step aside and let the next administration show up already.

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