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A lone Capitol police officer in an empty corridor of Congress. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

More than a dozen lawmakers have entered voluntary self-quarantine, and more are expected to — seriously testing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proclamation last week that Congress will be "the last to leave."

Why it matters: The Senate is racing to negotiate a "Phase 3" coronavirus relief package that could top $1 trillion.

  • The bill could include loans to small businesses, direct payments to Americans and bailouts for struggling industries.
  • Mitch McConnell's plan to move at "warp speed" could be upended if the coronavirus spreads through the halls of Congress, where the average lawmaker is close to 60 years old.

Driving the news: Two House members, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), revealed Wednesday that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

  • Among those in self-quarantine is Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 Republican in the House.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told members Thursday that the House will not return to session until the Senate passes its bill and that voting procedures will be adjusted to follow CDC guidance on large gatherings.

  • More than 50 members have signed onto a resolution by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) demanding that the House allow remote voting.
  • The argument: Congress is undermining public health officials on social distancing.

On the Senate side, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are floating a similar remote voting resolution.

  • “Yes, it is new," Durbin said on the Senate floor. "Yes, it is different. Yes, it reflects the 21st century and reflects a challenge the likes of which we have never seen."

Reality check: Politico Playbook notes that it's highly unlikely the House will change the rules to allow mobile voting. Reasons include technological hurdles, complex voter procedures and possible legal challenges.

  • But House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said on a caucus call today that he’s doing a study on remote voting and whether it’s feasible, a Democratic aide tells Axios.
  • McGovern is asking for formalized letters on voting proposals, according to another aide. Reps. Swalwell and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) are expected to send one on mobile voting, while staggered vote timing is also expected to be proposed.

Pelosi issued a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming that she called on McGovern to present a report on House rules, adding that House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) will be issuing a memo on tele-conferencing.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.