By Chuck Ross
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has canceled an in-person dinner to be held for newly elected House Democrats after receiving heavy blowback because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, NBC News reported that Pelosi would host the members-elect at an indoor venue on Capitol Hill. Pelosi said a Capitol physician had approved the event and that tables would be “very spaced” in order to comply with social distancing protocols.
House Dem and GOP leaders are holding respective dinners for new members.
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) November 13, 2020
Pelosi came under fire both because of the risk the event posed and because it was seen as hypocritical since government officials throughout the country have restricted indoor dining because of an uptick in coronavirus cases.
Officials in San Francisco, which encompasses Pelosi’s congressional district, banned indoor dining on Tuesday. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot advised Chicagoans to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans” as part of a stay-at-home order going into effect on Nov. 16.
After intense criticism on social media (MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called the lawmakers “maniacs”), Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, announced that the group dinner was cancelled. (RELATED: How many violations of face mask protocol can you count in this video of Nancy Pelosi?)
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. https://t.co/g5XNnA3ky0
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) November 14, 2020
*UPDATE*: This post was updated to reflect that the dinner was canceled after backlash.
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