Another first for an impeachment trial: meeting during a pandemic

Feb 13, 2021 Travel News

Another first for an impeachment trial: meeting during a pandemic

Outside the room, Capitol workers not only brought back velvet candlesticks to keep reporters away from senators, but also carefully spaced clear dots printed with footprints to provide a visual guide. for the distance.

While more than 100 journalists had been accredited in 2020, there are less than half this time, to ensure that social distancing is maintained. A year ago, videos of reporters moving like penguin jogs in the Senate basement after undecided senators went viral – and have since been shared again as a blatant reminder of how standards closeness changed during the pandemic.

Even with most lawmakers and some staff advisers now vaccinated to ensure the continuity of government, the nine impeachment officials and their assistants have deliberated on how to ensure that the proceedings do not become a widespread occurrence among those still awaiting vaccination.

Congressional leaders have made an effort to ensure that everyone who would be on the floor for the trial, including staff members, have the opportunity to be vaccinated before it begins, people familiar with it say. with planning. At one point, impeachment officials discussed the request to hold the trial in a space larger than the Senate Chamber, such as the auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center or even the Kennedy Center, to allow participants to move further away.

Ultimately, House Directors sharply reduced the number of physical aides on campus during the trial and closely monitored who could enter and exit rooms off the Senate floor reserved for managers and key personnel. of the trial, according to a Democratic official involved in Planning.

Senators, generally required by trial rules to remain seated at their desks for the duration of each day’s oral arguments and presentations, were allowed to watch from a room directly next to the Senate or the visitors’ gallery above. A pair of larger TV screens have also been installed in the balcony, to complement the Senate screens for lawmakers and gallery journalists.

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley was one of the few lawmakers to take advantage of the bird’s eye view, later telling reporters he “had a better view” of his seat in the United States. corner of the Senate Chamber.