Why is the U.S. Capitol Closed? Rep. Crawford Says it’s Time to Re-Open the People’s House

Nov 17, 2022
Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov)

Why is the U.S. Capitol Closed? Rep. Crawford Says it’s Time to Re-Open the People’s House

11/17/2022

Washington – Today in a speech on the House floor, Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-1) demanded that COVID restrictions for visitors of the U.S. Capitol and House office buildings be lifted.

The Capitol closed to the public on March 12, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The building has slowly opened in stages with strict restrictions still in place.

(Click the photo or here to watch full video)

“Madame Speaker, today I’m here to talk about re-opening the very building in which we stand – the U.S. Capitol. It has been two and a half years since Speaker Pelosi closed the people’s House and told Americans it was part of our united effort to stop COVID-19. Over the last year we’ve seen a sharp decline of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID. In fact, just two months ago, President Biden even declared the pandemic was over. Yet certain protocols remain from the height of the pandemic.

Today when constituents come to visit my office, they need to be personally escorted around by staff, they have to be a small group, they can’t go to the House gallery to watch votes take place, and my staff is only allowed to give a tour once a week. If the Speaker is really trying to prevent the spread of COVID why is she forcing people to gather in large crowds around security checkpoints? This is the people’s House, yet we continue denying access to the people, the very people that elected us to serve them, the very people whose taxes fund our operations. Because of these regulations, I’ve had to turn several of my constituents away.

Not only do these regulations make it difficult to welcome every group into my office, but it also affects the function of all House offices. I have multiple visitors a day, and each time they come in, I have to send one of my staffers to find the visitor in a crowd of people, wait in a long security line, and then escort them through the House office buildings. It is inefficient and takes staff away from the valuable work they should be doing for the people of Arkansas.

To top it all off, none of this makes any sense. Why do one of my staffers need to escort someone who has already been cleared by security into the building? How does this protect against COVID-19? What’s so dangerous about allowing visitors the ability to watch their government function? How can we claim to be a transparent government when we prohibit access to their elected officials?

It’s far past time to truly open up the Capitol to the people and restore its operations to pre-pandemic times. We cannot afford to keep distance between the American people and their elected representatives. These regulations prevent constituents from freely visiting their representatives, hinders productivity in our offices, and none of it makes us any safer. The people are an important part of the legislative process – in fact, they are the reason for it. Madame Speaker, they should be welcomed here. And with that I yield the balance of my time.”

Download in MP4 format here.

Download in MP3 format here.

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