With members of the House rushing from their home districts back to Washington, DC, to vote for the first time in weeks Thursday, concerns about travel in the middle of the pandemic altered many of their typical travel patterns.
Many members, not wanting to catch coronavirus at airports or on airplanes, drove themselves.
Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee drove alone for eight hours from Michigan to DC, a spokesman told CNN.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us and a lot more to do. I’m going to Washington now to do one piece of it,” he said in a video posted to his Twitter account, while stopped at a gas station in Youngstown, Ohio along the way.
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern drove for seven hours from Massachusetts with his daughter.
Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania took her family SUV to drive herself to Washington alone. While it was only a two-hour drive, an aide told CNN that her car has over 100,000 miles on it and the car charger is broken.
Most members that CNN reached said they flew back on commercial flights as they typically do, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California, who flew back on United Airlines, according to her office.
Congressional aides told CNN that the members took additional precautions along the way.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan flew with a large container of Clorox wipes, multiple pairs of gloves and hand sanitizer in her purse.
“We’re ready for this trip,” she said, her voice muffled though a mask, as documented on fellow Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Twitter account. “We change gloves after we’ve been through, we wash our hands.”
Dingell traveled on a commercial flight, her office confirmed to CNN. Two other members of the Michigan delegation, Tlaib and Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence, were on the same flight. Dingell tweeted out pictures of the three congresswomen in the airport waiting to board, many feet apart from each other.
Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah, who tested positive for coronavirus last month and has since recovered, returned to Washington on a commercial flight from Salt Lake City on Wednesday, his office confirmed to CNN.
Many of those commercial flights were nearly abandoned. Members tweeted photos of themselves sitting on near-empty planes.
“Empty road and airport as I head to Washington to vote,” Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts said on her Twitter account. “Grateful to my fellow passengers for wearing masks and the incredible airline crew and airport staff for helping us travel safely!”
By CNN’s count, it appeared that most members came back to Washington to vote Thursday, with over 390 members voting. But, there are still major concerns from many members about traveling back to Washington in the middle of a pandemic and many are continuing to push for remote or proxy voting.
In the House, the members’ handbook already provides limited flexibility for members to pay for chartered travel using their office funds, called the Members’ Representational Allowance, if they are concerned about commercial travel.
The Committee on House Administration recommends that charter or private flights should be used “sparingly” and only when the member “determines there is no suitable commercial flight available.”
The Senate has already loosened rules to now allow members to charter private planes using taxpayer money if they are summoned back to Washington to vote in the middle of the pandemic.