The House’s opening day of the 117th Congress began with a fuss over members refusing to wear face masks and ended with abandoning plans for a socially distant swearing-in.
But those were just the bookends to a day full of violations of public health guidance as the House convened at noon Sunday to open the new Congress.
Their guidance for opening day was no different, but like the advice they provided during the past year, it was frequently ignored.
The main difference is that 430 House members were present in the Capitol on Sunday, the largest amount since COVID-19 started shutting down normal operations across the country in March.
Members had to be present in person to be sworn in. Three were absent — Florida Democrat Alcee L. Hastings, who is battling pancreatic cancer; and Republicans David Valadao of California and María Elvira Salazar of Florida, who both recently tested positive for COVID-19.