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A tour operator, wearing a protective mask, gestures as he leads a tour near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 9. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) are reintroducing a 2013 bill that would enable members of Congress to virtually participate in committee hearings and vote remotely on suspension bills from their home districts amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to an advanced copy of the press release obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Congress, which is tasked with governing the country out of the coronavirus crisis, could quickly become a dangerous place for members and staffers, many of whom are over the age of 60 — the age group the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised to stay home as much as possible.

  • Millions of visitors also pass through Capitol Hill each year. As of this afternoon, visitors are still allowed in the building.
  • Meanwhile, several members of Congress — including Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Doug Collins and Julia Brownley — have placed themselves under self-quarantine after interacting with individuals who have tested positive for the virus.

Details: The "Members Operating to Be Innovative and Link Everyone (MOBILE) Resolution" would create a secure, remote voting system for members to vote on suspension bills, which are generally noncontroversial bills that require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Worth noting: Swalwell has introduced and failed to pass the MOBILE Resolution every Congress since the 113th (2013–2015), so the measure faces an uphill battle.

  • But the ongoing concerns of safety surrounding the coronavirus may change the voting dynamics. Members of Congress have been floating ideas on how to continue legislating while also prioritizing their health.

What they're saying:

  • “Modern technology belongs in Congress and my resolution would allow Members to not only spend more time with their constituents and their families, but would prove useful for a number of situations, including the public health crisis in which we currently find ourselves,” Swalwell said.
  • “The ability for Members of Congress to vote remotely if need be has been technologically feasible for decades,” said Crawford. “The ongoing coronavirus outbreak underscores the need for Congress to embrace what the 21st Century has to offer.”

Go deeper: The latest developments from the coronavirus

Go deeper

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.