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Congress Isn't Passing Pandemic Relief, But They Are Passing The Coronavirus

Nearly 1 in 10 senators and 1 in 20 House members have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but even wearing masks on the Senate floor is still a source of contention.

Posted on November 24, 2020, at 3:41 p.m. ET

Pool / Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 10. Grassley, 87, tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17.

In the past two weeks, at least 10 members of Congress have tested positive for to stay 数字货币合约交易是什么_数字货币基金有home for Thanksgiving to blunt an even bigger explosion in infections that could overwhelm hospitals across the country.

Congress has had a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases. Since the outbreak began, a report this month deeming it feasible for the House to move to full remote voting. But the Committee told BuzzFeed News that actually moving to that system would be a question for the whole House to decide.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called remote voting “unproven, unsecure, and unconstitutional.” He accused Pelosi of trying to consolidate power and extinguish party tensions by keeping members at 数字货币合约交易是什么_数字货币基金有home.

Due to their age — the average senator is 64 years old — much of Congress is at a higher risk of getting gravely ill from the disease. (Alaska’s Rep. Young is the oldest member in Congress and was briefly hospitalized with the virus.) Meanwhile, they are also considered essential workers.

“We don’t know where they are getting infected. Let’s own up to that,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told BuzzFeed News. But “the science is real clear: You get the disease primarily from other the best way to protect oneself in any work environment, as well as social environment, is to wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, and keep your distance.”

A handful of Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, proposed a bill in October to require mask-wearing and social distancing in any Senate office building and the Senate wing of the Capitol, and to develop a program for testing and contact tracing for senators and their hundreds of staff members. The bill was referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration, and has stalled there.

To date, mask use in Congress is inconsistent. While many members of both parties do diligently mask up when heading in to vote, some, like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, refuse.

Tensions boiled over in the Senate last week when Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown admonished Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan for not wearing a mask. Sullivan was serving as the presiding officer, with clerks sitting in front of him.

When Brown asked Sullivan to wear a mask, Sullivan irritatedly snapped back. “I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking, like most senators,” he said. “I don’t need your instruction.”

"I know you don't need my instruction," Brown responded. "But there clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.