‘You Maniacs’: House Dems, GOP Face Major Backlash for Planning Indoor Dinner for Freshmen Despite Covid Concerns

congress freshmen dinner

Screenshot via Twitter.

A photo showing the setup for a planned dinner for incoming freshmen members of Congress went viral on Friday, with commentators on both the right and the left sharply critical of the visible flouting of Covid-19 recommendations.

The original tweet by NBC News congressional correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell showed a photo of the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, with tables set up with gold tablecloths and burgundy-and-pink floral arrangements. The tables did appear to be spaced at least 6 feet apart, but the indoor setting plus the presumption that more than one member would be seated per table raised many eyebrows.

The quote Caldwell got from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claiming safety — “it’s very spaced” — didn’t seem to assuage any concerns.

Caldwell’s photo was met with immediate and loud condemnation. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was direct and succinct, saying, “cancel your precious dinner, you maniacs. my god,” and many, many others agreed with him.

The outrage was especially pronounced considering recent recommendations from numerous government officials that families cancel or sharply limit their Thanksgiving plans. For many, the holiday later this month will be the first time they have seen their family members in person in months, and Congress’ dinner plans struck them as tone-deaf and encouraging Americans to ignore the recommendations.

Just a few minutes ago, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted a defense of the dinner plans, noting that they were “strictly follow[ing] the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician” and had modified the event to allow attendees to take their meals to-go.

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