Do you believe that Congressmen should be in the Capitol at work, same as Americans who are first responders, hospital workers, police, military, truckers, and employees who are making masks, ventilators, and PPE equipment? I address this issue on my Common Sense Civics and Citizenship page and website (civicsandcitizenship.org) in an article entitled, “Details, Details..” (April 30, 2020). However, some controversy has come up. Let’s apply Common Sense Civics and Citizenship to this issue.
First, Congressmen are working from home but not Senators. The reasons for this are in the article mentioned above. Where the controversy comes is that Congress works for us. We are their employers. They make a salary of roughly $174,000. Some citizens reason that if you make that much money and We the People are your employers, you should not be working from home. You should be in the Capitol, working as “essential workers.”
A high proportion of House members have the most significant risk factor for contracting COVID-19. The average age is 57.7. There are possible co-morbidities, especially with those in their 70s and 80s. They fly to Washington from all over the country. They potentially bring with them potentially different strains of the virus if they are currently asymptomatic. Well, so what? Some Americans think House members should not be handled with “kid gloves.”
Here are some important points to note:
Many non-essential workers are working from home because they are not truckers, police, military, first responders, medical personnel, grocery store owners/employees, roofing contractors, maintenance personnel, etc. (Forgive me if I forgot your industry that requires you to go physically to your job!). The “non-essential” workers who are working from home ARE essential. We miss them! The fact is many of you work from home every day, amidst all other domestic responsibilities. Congress is working from home. They have to review legislation. They are fielding calls, doing committee work, voting, and employing their staffers to assist in the nation’s business all from home. Yes, all while the dog barks, the kids/grandkids need homeschooling, and the car needs an oil change, just like you. Some live in palatial estates. Others live in 900 square feet. (I’ve seen it for myself). Members of Congress and staffers are not on a paid holiday. They are working.
Have you used the services of a doctor via video conference? Is that doctor on a paid vacation because the appointment was done from his/her home and not at the office?
Consider this: COVID-19 is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t only infect congress members. It can affect the lowest staff member making 125,000 LESS than his/her congressman (boss). It can quickly spread to the cleaning staff, the first responders in the Capitol, the military who serve there, the young, the old, all races, etc. If we use that type of reasoning about the highest salaried members of the House, we deny the actual reason they have been told to shelter in place, like most of us who aren’t considered essential front-line workers. A more significant interruption to our current situation would be if multiple members of Congress, their staffers, and Capitol employees, died. The prospect of numerous deaths is real even if you believe the virus is fake, the shelter in place orders are ineffective, or the COVID-19 is politicized.
We Americans want our lives back. We want to return to our places of work. Yes, even those on Capitol Hill.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.??