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April 17, 2021, 11:13 a.m. EDT

After year of pandemic, Capitol Hill slowly sees signs of return to normalcy

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By Jonathan Nicholson

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Not everyone wants to go back to the way things were, at least not exactly.

Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who heads a House committee looking at how to modernize Congress, said he hopes some changes made to deal with the pandemic, like the use of electronic signatures for lawmakers to sign documents and transmitting committee reports electronically, remain.

“It’s a little bit like the beginning of the TV show ‘The $6 Million Man:’ we have the technology,” he told MarketWatch in an interview.

And those Zoom /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM -0.66% committee hearings seen on C-SPAN?

“I think you’ll see some techniques, some committees, sort of experiment with hybrid models, even as we go forward and, quote unquote, get back to normal,” he said.

Cardin said while he will follow CDC guidelines, he won’t be relaxing social distancing or masking until his entire family and grandchildren are vaccinated. For now, that means taking extra precautions around the two or three senators he said have yet to be vaccinated.

“We might be in a committee, but I’m wearing my mask,” he said.

For lawmakers, whose job requires an Olympian comfort level with near-constant human interaction few other occupations have, the return of face-to-face meetings will be the big change.

“It makes a difference, your ability to say to somebody, ‘listen, I’ll meet you for breakfast’ and ‘let’s sit down and have lunch’ or ‘let’s have a cup of coffee somewhere.’ Those are different kinds of relationships than you have on the phone or on a Zoom or a WebEx call,” Blunt said.

“I have had a couple of people from the White House come over this week, which they have not been willing to do before. And it’s helpful,” he said.

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