Rand Paul Irks Senators by Mingling While Waiting for Virus Results
Senator Rand Paul is coming under fire after exposing other lawmakers to the coronavirus while he was awaiting his own test results — which turned out to be positive.
Paul, a physician and Kentucky Republican, was on Capitol Hill and went to the Senate gym Sunday before he says he learned that he was the first senator to be infected with Covid-19. That announcement prompted two other Republican senators — Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah — to go into self-quarantine after spending time with Paul.
Paul, who voted against two emergency coronavirus spending bills this month, hasn’t directly commented about the result of his test. A statement on his Twitter feed Sunday afternoon said he was “asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his travel and events.”
Exposing more senators to the virus that has killed more than 400 people in the U.S. risks the health of lawmakers, many of whom are in the age group with the highest mortality rate.
More Republican senators in quarantine changes Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vote-counting as he tries to pass a roughly $2 trillion economic rescue package as quickly as possible.
Along with Paul, Romney and Lee, Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Senator Rick Scott of Florida were already in self-quarantine after exposure to other individuals who tested positive.
One Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, said Paul was “absolutely irresponsible” for being on Capitol Hill Sunday while awaiting his test results.
A spokesman for Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas confirmed that Moran had seen Paul at the gym on Sunday and he “shared this information” with other lawmakers at a luncheon for Senate Republicans on Sunday. The attending physician of the Capitol told Moran he didn’t need to self-quarantine, according to a statement from Tom Brandt, the senator’s press secretary.
A tweet later on Sunday from Paul’s Twitter account defended him after the senator was widely criticized following a tweet from a Washington Post reporter saying that Moran saw Paul at the pool. The reporter also stated that Paul got his “results back this morning.” Paul’s office said Monday that he was at the gym before learning his test results.
“We want to be clear, Senator Paul left the Senate IMMEDIATELY upon learning of his diagnosis,” the tweet said. “He had zero contact with anyone & went into quarantine. Insinuations such as those below that he went to the gym after learning of his results are just completely false & irresponsible!”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and former presidential candidate, said Monday that her husband tested positive for Covid-19 and was checked in to a hospital.
Klobuchar said she doesn’t plan to get tested since there is a shortage of tests and she hasn’t seen her husband in two weeks.
Paul is the first U.S. senator and third member of Congress known to have become infected. Representatives Mario Diaz Balart, a Florida Republican, and Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat, tested positive as well. McAdams has been in the hospital since Friday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Several Senate staff members also have confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Members of Congress must be present to vote, and current rules don’t allow remote voting — although pressure is mounting for that to change.
— With assistance by Erik Wasson
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