Press Release

Nurses Urge Speaker Pelosi to Reconvene U.S. House of Representatives Remotely under New Rules

nurses holding signs

National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nurses’ union, today urged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to reconvene the U.S. House of Representatives using new rules to allow for members of Congress to vote remotely or by proxy to ensure the safety of congressmembers and their staff but still allow Congress to do its essential work.

In a letter sent today, NNU leaders urged Speaker Pelosi to adopt rules proposed by Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern to “bring the House back into session temporarily to address the pandemic utilizing proxy voting and remote committee proceedings, while exploring longer term solutions in the face of these challenges.”

The nurses support “the reported caution expressed by the Attending Physician of the United States Congress regarding gatherings of Congress, given the continued risks presented by COVID-19 in the District of Columbia and across the nation. 

“We do not want Members of Congress or their staff members to risk their health or their lives,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, NNU executive director, Deborah Burger, RN, co-president, Zenei Cortez, RN, co-president, and Jean Ross, RN, co-president.

But the nurses expressed their anger and frustration at the failure of Congress to take action to protect the health and safety of nurses and other frontline health care workers.

“For two months we have been urgently demanding that the Trump Administration and Congress step up to ensure that health care workers get the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they need,” the nurse leaders wrote. “We’ve called on Congress and the Administration to mandate the promulgation of an emergency temporary OSHA standard to protect frontline workers, and the full invocation of the Defense Production Act to urgently increase production of PPE, medical equipment and testing supplies. For two months, both the Trump Administration and Congress have failed to act to protect frontline health care workers.

“The CDC has estimated that between 10 percent and 20 percent of all COVID-19 positive patients are health care workers, and scores of these workers have died as a result,” stated the NNU leaders. “These deaths would have been prevented if our government had prioritized the health and safety of health care workers. Instead, our government has treated us as if we are expendable. If we don’t protect health care workers, the pandemic will not be controlled, and our country will not be able to return to any degree of normalcy.”

The NNU leaders urged the House to ensure the inclusion in the Cares 2 legislation an emergency temporary OSHA standard and the full invocation of the Defense Production Act to mandate the mass production of PPE, testing kits and other equipment.  “The nation cannot afford Congress to be paralyzed by inaction,” they said.

Read the letter here.