The President of Congress, Meritxell Batet, has published an institutional message to highlight that, while the state of alarm and the health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic lasts, the House will continue to legislate and control the Government.
“In these circumstances, Congress must continue to assume its constitutional functions of legislation and government control,” he stressed in a text published on the Chamber’s website on Wednesday.
The parliamentary activity has been suspended since last March 12 and a few days ago the Table agreed to also suspend the deadlines for processing the initiatives, which provoked criticism from the PP and Vox, who saw in the decision a maneuver to prevent Congress from controlling the Government.
“The crisis of COVID-19 profoundly affects the whole of Spanish society and also the Congress of Deputies and its operation,” thus begins Batet’s statement.
But this will not prevent the Chamber from exercising its constitutional functions to, among other objectives, analyze “the response of public institutions to the epidemic”, in Batet’s opinion.
The president has emphasized, in this line, that “it is everyone’s will” that these responses be “the best possible.”
After recalling that in the declaration of a state of alarm to Congress, it is appropriate to authorize “its extensions”, as it did on March 25, or to validate or repeal government decrees, lists the decisions taken to keep Congress running.
Batet stresses that these decisions have been made in compliance with current “public health and sanitary requirements”.
Registration is open, questions for a written response from the Government are still being processed and deputies retain their responsibilities and may request that sessions be convened, although, he points out, by telematic means.
Batet points out that all the actions and initiatives that can be postponed are accumulating, except those that due to their “urgency” must be processed as soon as possible, in the case of the Health Commission, which will meet weekly while the emergency lasts and will have the assistance of the minister Salvador Illa.
The activity continues, acknowledges the president, but by telematic means or with less presence.
The plenary sessions convened to date, those of March 18 and 25, “are held with the only necessary presence of the speakers designated by the groups and the Government, and the minimum number of members of the Bureau”, as a result of the sanitary measures imposed.
However, Batet stresses that the vote is guaranteed by telematic means, as happened in the last plenary session.
The Board continues to work (this Tuesday, virtually) and the Board of Spokespersons has adapted to the videoconferences.
Consequently, Batet concludes, the services of the Chamber that must be maintained continue to operate, while reducing “the maximum presence of personnel in the facilities of Congress.”
In this context, the president recalls in her statement that the daily activity of the media “has also been affected”; in fact, the access control for the press is closed.