Nancy Pelosi CANCELS Capitol dinner to welcome new members to the House after Chelsea Clinton leads backlash on Twitter to the event being held on the day the Speaker said COVID was ‘an emergency of the highest magnitude’
- On Friday evening Democrats and Republicans planned welcome dinners
- A photo of preparations for the traditional event for new members went viral
- Democrats including Chelsea Clinton pleaded with Pelosi to cancel the event
- At 5:50pm on Friday Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff defended the dinner
- At 7:30pm he said it had been canceled and replaced by takeout for all
Nancy Pelosi has called off a planned dinner for new Democratic members of Congress after pictures of the event went viral and sparked anger that political leaders were openly flouting COVID restrictions.
Pelosi, 80, on Friday described coronavirus pandemic as ‘an emergency of the highest magnitude.’
On Friday more than 172,000 cases were confirmed, and on Thursday more than 160,000: before November, the country had never added 100,000 cases or more in a day.
In the midwest and west, the virus is out of control, and from Chicago to Washington DC to New York City, Americans are being advised to cancel their Thanksgiving plans and stay at home with as few people as possible.
On Friday Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News correspondent, reported that Democratic and Republican leaders in the House were holding dinners for new members, and posted a photo of a lavish dining room being prepared in the Capitol.
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, initially said the dinner was safe
‘[email protected] told me it’s safe,’ she tweeted.
‘”It’s very spaced,” she said and there is enhanced ventilation and the Capitol physician signed off.’
Yet the planned dinner angered many prominent Democrat supporters, upset that their message of respecting CDC guidelines – unlike many Republicans – was being undermined.
‘Imagine telling families not to hold Thanksgiving (we shouldn’t) and then doing this. Come. On,’ said Nikole Hannah Jones, a New York Times Magazine reporter.
Chelsea Clinton tweeted: ‘Please cancel these in-person dinners, @SpeakerPelosi & @kevinomccarthy to keep everyone safe from #covid19 – yourselves, your new members, servers, the Capitol police and all of their families and contacts. And, to show public health leadership.’
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted: ‘Cancel your precious dinner, you maniacs. my god.’
Pelosi’s office initially defended the dinner.
‘Our office strictly follows the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician, including for this dinner,’ said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.
‘To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner.’
Ninety minutes later, he tweeted: ‘Members-elect are now picking up their boxed meals and departing the Capitol. There is no group dinner. Members-elect are in DC already for orientation.’
It was not clear whether the Republican event went ahead.