Despite Joe Biden calling in his State of the Union address for the nation to return to pre-COVID standards of normality, many offices of Democratic members of Congress are still closed and have continued to have their staff work from home.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, some of the offices that still remain closed include Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Several committees are also remaining closed to in-person meetings and are instead conducting their business virtually, such as the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. On the House side, such offices include Reps. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.).
Some offices are shifting to a “hybrid” model of both working in the office and working from home via remote technology, including Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
At the State of the Union address, where gathered lawmakers were no longer required to wear masks, Biden said that “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.” Despite Biden and the Democrats overwhelmingly supporting the harsh lockdowns and other restrictive measures at the onset of the pandemic, Biden suddenly reversed course in his speech, saying that “people working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.”
These divisions within the Democratic Party in Congress reflect the broader disagreements among their own ranks over returning to “normal” as COVID-19 appears to have subsided. Polls increasingly show that efforts to prolong mandates, lockdowns, and other restrictions are becoming even more unpopular with an overwhelming majority of Americans, who want to get back to living their lives. Democrats who are now supportive of ending such restrictions see the continuation of these measures as detrimental to their chances in the November midterms.