U.S. House: What does the bill the status of “Held at the desk” mean?
Hold the bill at the desk
A maneuver reserving the right of action on a measure to the full Chamber, rather than to a committee. A bill held at the desk is available for immediate consideration. Since it is not referred to a committee, the bill has no hearings or committee reports accompanying it from that Chamber. A bill passed by one Chamber and referred to the second Chamber often is held at the desk in the second Chamber, particularly when the second Chamber already is working on similar legislation.
In this case, the House was already working on an earlier bill, H.R.3191 - COVID–19 Origin Act of 2021, with the same title.
Has this report (from townhall.com) distorted the facts about the COVID-19 Origin Act?
From the Congressional Record for July 20, 2021, during consideration of H.Res. 535 - Providing for consideration of ..., Rep. Burgess stated "if we defeat the previous question, I will offer an amendment to the rule to immediately consider S. 1867, the COVID–19 Origin Act, ...." The previous question was not defeated, having passed 216-207, thus the amendment which would have forced a vote on S. 1867 was not offered, so there was no vote on S. 1867.
Any distortion would be related to an implication that the Senate bill, S. 1867, was defeated rather than just the amendment to H.Res. 535 for consideration of the bill. Thus, the statement,
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) brought the COVID-19 Origin Act to the House floor for consideration with Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) explaining its importance shortly before Democrats voted down the measure Tuesday night. townhall.com
appears to be a misstatement of what happened.
This action was also reported in The Federalist, July 21, 2021.
The COVID-19 Origin Act was brought to the floor by Representatives Burgess (R-TX), LaHood (R-IL), and Wenstrup (R-OH) before it was shot down in a 216 to 207 vote.
This is another distortion of what happened.
In fact, Republicans offered Democrats the opportunity to vote on the Senate COVID-19 Origin Act. Democrats rejected the offer. Nothing changed with respect to S. 1867, it is still "held at the desk" and could be brought up again.
Why hasn't this vote been reflected in the bill's status, and in the national press?
As Joe W mentions, "why it is not updated ... could be a simple matter of the site not being updated in real time [and] might take a day or two to update."
The national press (or mainstream media) likely did not report the story because there was nothing of significance to report.