House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has abruptly dropped plans for lawmakers to return next week, saying he and Nancy Pelosi decided to change course after speaking to the Capitol's attending physician. Hoyer said the physician warned it would be unsafe for House lawmakers to return as planned on May 4, partly because the number of coronavirus cases is still rising in the Washington, DC area, the Hill reports. "We had no choice," Pelosi told reporters Tuesday. "If the Capitol physician recommends that we not come back, then we have to take that guidance." She said the physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, had warned that bringing the 430 House lawmakers back too early could risk the lives of staffers and Capitol police officers.
Hoyer—who faced a backlash from lawmakers when he announced the May 4 return date Monday—said House members could return for a session when the next coronavirus relief bill is ready in order to vote on both the bill and a plan to allow remote voting. Senate leaders say they are still planning to return on May 4, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office declined to comment on whether he had consulted with Monahan, Politico reports. House Republicans criticized Democrats' handling of the situation, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise saying they should "get back to work." NPR reports that during an event Tuesday, Trump mocked Hoyer's decision, saying Democrats "don't want to come" and "they're enjoying their vacation." (Read more Congress stories.)