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Amid coronavirus, House Democrats push to end members sleeping in offices - 'unethical,' and 'nasty'

'House offices were never intended to become homeless shelters for members' – California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier

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Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill during coronavirus pandemic
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Updated: May 5, 2020 - 10:53am

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California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier has sent a letter to the Capitol physician requesting a ban on the practice of members sleeping in their offices.

As the lower chamber prepares to return next week to Capitol Hill, Speier is arguing that the longtime practice is “unprofessional, unhygienic and even unethical.”

Especially in the time of coronavirus, the congresswoman argues, members should not continue to live out of their offices, because it may exacerbate the spread of the illness. Already 17 construction workers in the Cannon House Office Building have tested positive for the virus.

“If members slept in their offices during this time, they likely had a greater chance of exposure and exacerbated the public health risk of coronavirus,” wrote Speier in the letter dated Monday.

“Look, it’s unhealthy. It’s nasty. I wouldn’t want to be entertained in somebody’s bedroom,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) in 2018.

“House offices were never intended to become homeless shelters for Members and it is high time we stop tolerating the practice,” reads Speier's letter.

Some lawmakers opt to sleep in their offices to save money on DC-area rents, using the showers and gyms inside the Capitol. Representative Speier’s letter alludes to past reports, which suggest that up to 100 members of Congress live out  of their offices while in session.

The gym has been closed, which has resulted in some of those lawmakers having to stay elsewhere. 

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