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Congress isn’t on paid vacation during pandemic

April 24, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: “Worst pandemic in 100 years, what does Congress do? Takes a paid vacation.” - Facebook post, April 24 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Members of Congress have been meeting either in Washington or from their home district to negotiate relief packages for the coronavirus pandemic.

THE FACTS: Members of Congress aren’t taking a vacation while millions of Americans lose their jobs, as false posts circulating on Facebook and Twitter claim. 

Congressional leaders from both parties _ including Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as well as Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy _ have been in Washington to hammer out deals in recent days, The Associated Press has reported. 

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On Tuesday, the Senate met in a pro forma session with few Senators present to pass a $483 billion package that will help fund small business payrolls and hospitals.

Then on Thursday, members of the House gathered in Washington, donning masks and bandanas for a roll call vote. Lawmakers, voted in blocks, by alphabetical order, to abide by social distancing rules. The House had last convened less than four weeks ago on March 27th to pass a $2 trillion package. 

Hoyer directly debunked rumors that legislators are simply vacationing during their time away from Washington. 

“These members have been working round-the-clock to make sure their communities are safe,” Hoyer said during Thursday’s House session. “You may not see us but millions and millions and millions of Americans are working at home. They are teleworking. That’s essentially what we’ve been doing. Teleworking. Don’t tell them they are not working. Because they know they are working. They have been a credit to their districts. Every member, Republican, Democrat.” 

Republican President Donald Trump helped to fuel false claims, after he tweeted last week a call for “Do Nothing Democrats” to “come back to Washington” and “End your ENDLESS VACATION!” 

Some posts singled out Democrats falsely suggesting they have been vacationing for 8 weeks, and are collecting daily per diems of $250 to pay for dinner. Members of Congress are not eligible to collect daily per diems for lodging or meal expenses in D.C., according to the Congressional Research Service. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536