Republicans on the House Oversight Committee rejected a rule amendment that would allow members to participate remotely if they have a medical need, while Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., agreed to make accommodations for Ranking Member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who is battling Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.
Raskin offered the amendment to allow remote participation in cases where “in-person participation would potentially compromise the member’s health.” The committee’s senior Democrat cited COVID-19 as a hypothetical reason. Comer was quick to oppose having a blanket rule, but noted that he as the ability to make accommodations for such situations on an individual basis.
“He and I have had several conversations and I will say this publicly, I will do everything in my ability to work with you to make sure that we can accommodate anything with respect to committee work while you’re undergoing treatment,” Comer said turning to Raskin.
That being said, Comer maintained that “this amendment is not necessary,” and urged others to vote against it.
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UNITED STATES – JANUARY 12: Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., prepares for a television interview in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 12, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., also voiced his opposition to the amendment, stating that when remote work was allowed in the last Congress, there were “many” who “abused” this ability, even working from their office rather than join their colleagues.
“This amendment is not needed,” Donalds said.
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Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, speaks during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Whether far-right extremists who attacked the US Capitol were encouraged by or even conspired with then-PresidentDonald Trumpwill be the subject of today’s hearing by the House committee investigating the riot. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
( Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the second-highest ranking Democrat on the committee, acknowledged Donalds’ concerns and voiced appreciation for Comer making accommodations for Raskin, but supported the amendment out of the belief that it should not be up to one person’s discretion for whether a member is required to work in person when they have a medical need.
FILE: Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., is interviewed on his way to the House chamber, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, to attend the 14th vote for speaker of the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also opposed the bill, while offering well-wishes for Raskin. She pointed to how “the White House just announced that they’ll be calling an end to the COVID-19 emergency,” arguing that there is no need to change rules for the pandemic. She also brought up another possible medical need, pregnancy, stating that “it doesn’t stop many women from showing up for work,” so it should not be an excuse for committee members.
“I think it’s important for all members to come and to be present as much as they possibly can, because we have a job to do for the American people,” she said.