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Pelosi cancels in-person Hill dinner for Democrat-elect House members after social media backlash

The speaker and her office initially planned to go ahead with the event when a picture of venue was posted online and the outcry started.

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Speaker Pelosi
Speaker Pelosi
(Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Updated: November 14, 2020 - 9:58pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday cancelled a dinner for incoming House Democrats after social media backlash about hosting the traditional Capitol Hill event amid a surging pandemic. 

Pelosi and her office initially defended the event amid the criticism – the same day the U.S. recorded a record, single-day number of new cases – before announcing its cancellation. 

The number of new cases Friday was 184,524, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine tracker.

“Our office strictly follows the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, including for this dinner,” tweeted Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill. “To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner."

However, he later said: "Members-elect are now picking up their boxed meals and departing the Capitol. There is no group dinner."

The controversy started when an NBC News correspondent reported that Democratic and Republican House leaders were planning dinners for new members, as part of freshman orientation, and that Pelosi, a California Democrat, told the correspondent the event was “safe.”

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