Joyce: Reopen the U.S. Capitol to the American People

Jan 27, 2022
Press

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined fellow Buckeye Congressman Bob Latta (OH-05) in calling on the Attending Physician to immediately issue updated COVID-19 guidelines to facilitate the reopening of the U.S. Capitol to the American public.

“The American people not only need but also deserve to see their democracy in action,” said Joyce. “While public access to the Capitol remains severely constrained, so does the people’s Constitutional right to petition their government. We cannot continue to keep the Capitol and the legislative bodies it houses closed to those they serve.”

The Capitol has been closed to the general public since the House Sergeant At Arms issued a closure order on March 12, 2020. In December, the Senate Sergeant At Arms announced that Senate offices would be allowed to partially reopen public tours. However, access to the U.S. House of Representatives remains highly limited and public tours continue to be prohibited.

You can read the full text of the letter, which was signed by a total of 63 Members of Congress, here and below:

Dear Dr. Monahan,

We write to you today to express our concern about the continued closure of the House side of the U.S. Capitol building to the American public despite the fact that major sporting and entertainment gatherings are occurring regularly around the country and companies across the nation are open for business. As you may be aware, the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol building recently announced it will be reopening to tours on a limited basis but the House Sergeant At Arms has yet to adopt a similar policy. 

The Capitol closure order, issued by the House Sergeant At Arms on March 12, 2020, cited guidance form your office and Congressional leadership as the justification for issuing the order. Since that time, Congressional leadership has repeatedly stated it defers to you on questions of COVID-19 workplace safety policies, including a recent statement made by Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren to the Washington Post. The last Social Distancing Guidelines document (V6.1) issued by your office have not recently been active.

Given these facts, we respectfully request you immediately issue up-to-date Social Distancing Guidelines to Congressional leaders and consider modifying your recommendation on the closure of the U.S. Capitol as part of that guidance. We also ask that you clarify whether your office has issued the same guidelines regarding the resumption of public tours to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Congress is accountable to the American people, and the American people have a Constitutional right to be heard, to see their democracy in action, and to petition their leaders for redress of grievances. Unfortunately, Congress has lagged far behind the rest of America in reopening. Now more than ever, we must be proactive in building public trust and getting back to work.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter of national importance. 

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