McConnell Insists Senators Can Safely Return to Work

But there may not be capacity to test all senators
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2020 4:24 AM CDT
Report: Capitol Physician Doesn't Have Enough Tests
In this April 21, 2020 photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks with reporters after the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A group of up to 100 people, many of them elderly, will be traveling from across America to return to work Monday—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists it can be done safely. The Republican declined to say Thursday whether Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol's attending physician, had advised against bringing back the Senate after more than a month away, Hill reports. Around half the country's senators are over 65 and four of them are over 85. "We can modify our routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we can honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct our business in person," McConnell said, arguing that if workers like doctors, nurses, and truck drivers can "man their own duty stations" during the pandemic, senators should as well.

House Democrats say they canceled plans to bring the House's 430 lawmakers back on Monday on advice from Monahan. The physician told Senate leaders that tests would be available for senators and staffers showing symptoms, but there are not enough tests for all 100 senators, sources tell Politico. Democrats including 86-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the oldest senator, have urged McConnell to reconsider the plan. Returning "sends the wrong message to the American people, most of whom are being asked or directed to stay at home," Feinstein wrote to McConnell. Officials say returning senators will be asked to wear masks at all times, except when giving speeches. (More Senate stories.)

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