U.S. House makes new social distancing changes to fight virus

With most lawmakers back in their home districts, the U.S. House met on Tuesday in a quick pro forma session, to fulfill the requirement in the Constitution to meet every three days. But in these times of the Coronavirus, it was anything but normal.

The lawmaker presiding in the Speaker's Chair wore a black mask.

The House reading clerk performed her duties from the table usually used by Republicans members of the House.

And the House Chaplain delivered his prayer from floor of the House, speaking from the Democratic side of the aisle.

The cameras - operated under strict limits by the House - showed the scene with an unusually wide camera shot.

"Help us to practice social distancing," Father Patrick Conroy said from the floor, wearing white gloves as he delivered the daily prayer before the quick session began.

"We grieve precious lives lost and vulnerable lives threatened," Conroy added.

When the House met last Friday, it was business as usual. The chaplain, the reading clerk, and other legislative clerks were all gathered on the dais - as normal.

But this was a much different scene.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) presided over the House session, wearing a thick black mask in the Speaker's Chair.

The Senate has also modified its own procedures in recent days, staffing the dais with only a single person, in addition to the Senator in the chair for the day's swift proceedings.

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau