Two House Republicans are accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of blocking COVID testing in the House.
Calls for Pelosi to act come as Senate Democrats are invoking the potential spread of the coronavirus on Capitol Hill as a reason to delay the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, during a Saturday appearance on “Fox & Friends,” said the ability to test has been in existence — and ignored — for too long.
“I mean these protocols have been out there and the testing capabilities have been out there for a long time. They were offered to the speaker and she turned it down,” Scalise said.
“I think it’s something that should have been in Congress for a few weeks now. But ultimately that’s what the speaker decided to do,” he said.
On Friday, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking Republican on the Committee on House Administration, said Pelosi should quit stalling and implement testing for House members.
“I am writing again today to reiterate my concern that we do not have a comprehensive health monitoring system and testing program for our Capitol Hill campus in order to help us do our part to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Davis wrote in a letter to Pelosi.
“I have stood ready to engage with your office and my counterpart on the Committee on House Administration for months, but my requests have gone unanswered. While I appreciate that the attending physician has been able to conduct COVID-19 testing for members who have symptoms or have been exposed, provide very limited staff testing, and advise offices on contact tracing, our ability to monitor the health and safety of the House is severely lacking because you have failed to implement a plan,” he wrote.
Davis noted that everyone else in the nation has been able to develop a plan, which means Pelosi should be able to agree to one for the House.
“Universities, public institutions, private businesses, and communities across the country have embraced technologies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the House has failed to adopt similar tools that are now being used nationwide. As testing has advanced and become more readily available, the House’s posture on testing has not evolved from where we were months ago,” he wrote.
“The attending physician gives recommendations to our community, but the policies on how we govern the House are set by you and a widespread testing program has not been adopted because you have opposed it.”
“This institution, similar to the White House, must continue to function to serve the American people during this pandemic. As a result, thousands of people who support this institution, report on this institution, and protect this institution, must continue to come to work and have not had the luxury of staying in their homes and working by proxy or remotely like some of your caucus members,” Davis added.
Davis wrote that House testing rules “should not reflect the news of the day or be to politically shield your office when difficult news breaks. This is not an acceptable way to communicate and continues to show your partisanship on this issue.”
During her appearance Sunday on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” Pelosi indicated she has no plans to change the House testing regimen, according to CBS.
“I’m pleased with the reliability of the testing in the Capitol,” she said.
“I think it’s better than what is at the White House or else the president might not have been exposed on the basis of a false negative that may have put him at risk. We don’t know where he got it, but we do know that there was a negative test for somebody with close proximity to the president.”
Pelosi also noted that “we have 20,000 employees on Capitol Hill. It’s not just about the members of Congress.”
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