Senate Democrats reportedly have an unspoken agreement to avoid testing for COVID-19 because their hopes of passing the Inflation Reduction Act depend on all 50 members being present in the chamber in the days ahead.
Senators have adopted the attitude that the COVID-19 testing protocols Democrats previously touted as necessary should not stand in the way of a major and much-needed legislative win, according to Puck News.
When asked by the Washington Examiner about the report, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed to comments he made last week.
A reporter asked Schumer at the time: “On the health question, I mean, you guys have full attendance for the first time since June this week. If one of you gets COVID, are you guys going to stick around? Is there a plan B?”
Schumer replied, “We’re not talking about a plan B. We’re going to stay healthy.”
The departure from protocol has rankled some Republicans, who have been the target of Democratic attacks over what Democrats have characterized as an irresponsible approach to the virus.
“For two years, Democrats scolded Americans for ‘putting others at risk’ for not adhering to COVID protocols. But apparently ramming through taxes warrants breaking the rules,” a GOP Senate leadership aide told the Washington Examiner.
Schumer has set his sights on a vote this weekend on a bill that Democrats have pursued for more than a year. A recent agreement between Schumer and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) has paved the way for the bill to advance, pending a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian.
COVID-19 has already complicated Democrats’ ability to legislate in recent weeks.
Schumer himself recovered from the virus after testing positive in July; Manchin, his main negotiating partner for the Inflation Reduction Act, tested positive two weeks later.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also all tested positive in July and had to isolate.
Unlike the House, the Senate does not allow proxy voting. All senators must be physically present in the chamber to participate in the vote.