In a rare show of unity, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined forces to stop the White House from providing members of Congress with accelerated coronavirus testing.
President Trump reportedly offered the testing as a means of getting the lawmakers back to Washington, D.C., where they can continue working to help Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi has dismissed lawmakers back to their districts as to lower their risk of contracting the coronavirus.
As Politico reports, the two lawmakers wrote a joint statement telling the Trump administration that the Capitol should not receive any special treatment when it comes to the coronavirus.
The rejection sparked sharp criticism from the president who called it an “excuse” for them to continue not working.
“No reason to turn it down, except politics,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
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! https://t.co/NucH4dbKBL
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2020
Trump also said Pelosi’s decision not to accept the tests, thereby not returning to work, is an accidental admittance of not being an “essential” worker.
“Interesting? By Congress not wanting the special 5-minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not ‘essential.’ In any event, we have great testing capacity, and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!” he added in another tweet.
Interesting? By Congress not wanting the special 5 minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not “essential”. In any event, we have great testing capacity, and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2020
Here’s more from Politico:
If Congress returns too soon and lawmakers contract coronavirus, leaders could face backlash for not keeping members safe. But if Congress doesn’t get back to business, leaders could take heat for sitting on the sidelines in the middle of a crisis. Those are the competing pressures that the Senate and House are under as they make decisions about when — and how — to reopen.
So far, the chambers are taking divergent approaches. But the House will surely be keeping a close eye on operations in the Senate, which is returning today despite D.C.’s stay-at-home order. The Office of Attending Physician is recommending that senators conduct self-health audits and wear face masks, though it is not required; press conferences are being moved to larger rooms; social distancing will be enforced at stakeouts; and only one print pool reporter will be allowed at most committee hearings.
Across the Capitol, the House is delaying its return by at least another week. But some lawmakers and senior aides think the House may need to push its return even further: The Capitol physician informed members of the House Administration Committee Friday that coronavirus cases may not peak in the D.C. region until mid- or even late May. And leaders have so far struggled to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to safely function amid the pandemic.