According to a recent report from Axios, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may be meddling in President Joe Biden’s upcoming “State of the Union” address in March, notably by limiting the audience to only 25 members.
Per the report released on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was informed by the House Speaker that she is contemplating reducing the total number of representatives in attendance to only 25 due to concerns over the rising cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
According to a spokesperson for Pelosi, no final decisions have been reached regarding the audience size for the speech, which is anticipated to take place within the House chamber on March 1. However, Pelosi’s office will apparently “work closely with the Office of the Attending Physician to accommodate as many member requests as safely possible” the spokesperson noted in remarks to Axios.
Last year, Biden’s “Special Joint Address” address in April was attended by 140 different representatives, including 25 House Republicans and 55 House Democrats, as well as 25 Senate Republicans and 35 Senate Democrats.
Per the report, Pelosi directly informed McCarthy that she intended to institute a 25-person limit on the audience for the speech, and the House Minority Leader subsequently informed other Republican leadership.
A spokesperson for McCarthy would not comment on the report for Axios, though various sources revealed that the House Minority Leader is quite “frustrated” by the news of Pelosi’s latest antics. A major source of frustration is the fact that multiple Democrats have been routinely flying on planes with far more individuals than Pelosi apparently wants in attendance at a major presidential speech.
In contrast to last year’s “Special Joint Session Address,” the “State of the Union” speech is constitutionally mandated, and it comprises Biden’s first formal report to Congress.
Various restrictions have emerged across the nation in response to rising COVID cases, including in Washington, D.C. For instance, Pelosi continues to have a mask mandate in place, which requires for all members to wear N95 masks; surgical and cloth masks are unacceptable under the House Speaker’s mandate.
Across the nation’s capital, 1,071 new cases were recorded on January 31, and the rolling daily average stands at 334 new cases. While the 334 average of new omicron cases constitutes an 80 percent increase from two weeks ago, hospitalizations have decreased by 33 percent during the same time period.
Approximately 66 percent of residents in Washington, D.C. are fully vaccinated against COVID.