Earlier Sunday, Republicans were moving ahead with dinner after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Saturday morning that his team would discuss their plans for dinner after the Hill Democrats changed their own. But less than an hour after the start of the Republican dinner on Sunday evening, 45 tables for two were set up in the empty Statuary Hall.
CNN arrived at McCarthy’s office.
McCarthy defended the dinner on Saturday, echoing comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday when she first defended her dinner.
The California Republican told Fox News on Saturday, “But what we did beforehand, we got the doctor in, and we put a new ventilation system in there.” “It’s a one-time dinner at Statuary Hall. We have taken all precautions, and have followed the CDC and others for what you can do and how you can get together, and that’s what we’re trying to do, ensuring everyone’s safety.”
The House Democrats dinner has been revised after a backlash on social media showed Statuary Hall is full of tables with no social distancing.
Pelosi told reporters earlier on Friday that this was The place was “very far apart” and that there were safety protocols in place. “They are very far apart, and we have all the permission and ventilation from the doctor,” she said.
A senior Democratic aide told CNN that there was improved ventilation in the room, only four members would be at each table, and that the event was occurring under the supervision of the attending physician’s office.
The coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen and the United States set a new daily record for new cases on Friday, with more than 184,000 new cases. Reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
A group of Republican freshmen in the House of Representatives visited the White House Friday night, according to multiple posts CNN spotted on social media. The elected members included Marjorie Taylor Green of QAnon Corporation, and Madison Cawthorne of North Carolina, who won the former seat of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The elected members, who in most of the photos did not wear masks, toured the White House but did not meet President Donald Trump, according to an administration official with knowledge of the president’s schedule.
Politico reported for the first time about the visit, and it said McCarthy led it. His office refused to comment to CNN on the visit.
Pelosi has often criticized Trump for the White House’s handling of the pandemic.
Earlier Friday at its weekly press conference, the California Democrat blamed Republicans for “hearing science on their way to a vaccine” and highlighted the need for isolation and separation.
“Testing, tracking, treatment, wearing a mask, isolating, separating and sanitation are all these things because the faster we do it and the faster we get a vaccine, the faster we crush the virus,” she said. “I hope that will motivate people to follow science.”
At a separate press conference on Thursday, Pelosi said of the pandemic and the devastation it caused, “This is a red alert and all hands on deck, but it should have been a long time ago. The President and Republicans in Congress did. Ignore it with delay, distortion and denial.”
She went on to say, “There have been deaths. What are they doing now? Continuing to ignore, despite these numbers which must be very convincing, it is imperative for us to act on that. Every kind of avoidance we have seen taking responsibility. They ignore every opportunity. We had the testing, the tracking, the treatment, the wearing of the mask, the separation, the sanitation, which science tells us to do. “
This story was updated Sunday with additional reports.
Haley Brink and Prince Vera of CNN, Nikki Robertson, Caitlan Collins, and Daniela Diaz contributed to this report.