In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., 20 Democratic senators plus Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged leadership to include maximum telework provisions for Federal employees and contractors in the next coronavirus relief package.

“As new waves of COVID-19 cases continue to hit areas across the country, it is especially important for Federal agencies to have a clear mandate that sets a positive example for employers to keep their workforces and communities safe,” the senators said. “Plans to bring Federal employees back into offices prematurely would threaten to erase the progress made against the coronavirus and increase community spread.”

The senators called for language allowing all Federal employees and contractors who can perform their work remotely do so, and said agencies should continue to maximize telework throughout the pandemic.

The next moves on the relief package remain unclear, as Congress and the White House by all reports remain far apart on key elements of the legislation. Spurring them to action, among other items, are expiring Federal pandemic unemployment payments and eviction moratoriums.

“Senator McConnell is busy giving partisan speeches, while [Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.] and I are busy fighting to come to an agreement to actually help Americans across the country,” Sen. Schumer said via tweet yesterday. “We must act now.”

“There’s a fact of life here in the United States Senate: It takes 60 votes to legislate,” Sen. McConnell said. “So the American people cannot get any of the additional relief that Republicans want to give them unless Democrats will come to the table.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.