Pelosi And McConnell Decline White House Offer Of Coronavirus Tests For Capitol Hill

May 2, 2020
Originally published on May 3, 2020 8:18 am

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a rare joint statement on Saturday, declined an offer from the White House to make rapid COVID-19 tests available for Congress.

"Congress is grateful for the Administration's generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time," Pelosi and McConnell said. "Our country's testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly."

McConnell, R-Ky., plans to bring the Senate back into session on Monday, while Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said this week the House would not bring representatives back over coronavirus fears.

On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Twitter that the Trump administration would send three Abbott "point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use" to Capitol Hill.

President Trump on Saturday tweeted: "No reason to turn it down, except politics. We have plenty of testing. Maybe you need a new Doctor over there. Crazy Nancy will use it as an excuse not to show up to work!"

Pelosi and Hoyer said they made the decision based on advice from the Capitol's attending physician, Brian Monahan. "The House physician's view was that there was a risk to members that was one he would not recommend taking," Hoyer said Tuesday.

So far, Rand Paul of Kentucky is the only senator to have tested positive for the coronavirus. In the House, seven members have tested positive or have been presumed to be positive for the coronavirus.

On Friday, McConnell shared guidelines from Monahan urging lawmakers and staff to maintain 6 feet of distance, limit the number of people in offices, and wear masks when possible.

Monahan has told Republican leaders that his office does not have the capacity to proactively test all 100 senators and can only test those who are ill, Politico reported.

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