Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged President Donald Trump to lower flags at all public buildings when the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 reaches 100,000.
The Democratic leaders made their request Thursday in a letter to the White House saying the move would be "a national expression of grief so needed by everyone in our country." Over 93,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., and 1.5 million have been sickened, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Pelosi and Schumer noted in the letter that the country will observe Memorial Day on Monday to honor those who gave their lives for the country.
"As we pay our respects to them, sadly, our country mourns the deaths of nearly 100,000 Americans from COVID-19," they wrote. "Our hearts are broken over this great loss and our prayers are with their families."
The president has the power to issue a proclamation ordering that flags be lowered and for how long.
Trump has often acted quickly to honor Americans by lowering flags, but he opted against doing so on notable occasions such as the death of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. The two long had a strained relationship.
Democrats have been critical of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and in recent days Pelosi and Trump have exchanged barbs.
On Capitol Hill, the offices of the House speaker and the Senate majority leader make their own decision regarding whether to lower the flags on the roof of each chamber. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for two flags on the east and west side of the center of the building, taking instructions from joint House leadership.