House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has reportedly refused to implement COVID-19 testing for lawmakers in the nation’s capital, according to a top lawmaker.
Jedediah Bila started off the segment on “Fox & Friends Weekend” by showing Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Ranking Member on the House Administration Committee, calling on Pelosi to implement COVID-19 testing for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Bila then asked Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) to respond to what Davis said in the video clip.
“Congressman Davis is exactly correct,” Scalise said. “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.”
“I think it’s something that should have been in Congress for a few weeks now,” Scalise continued. “But ultimately that’s what the speaker decided to do.”
Scalise’s remarks come after Davis sent the following letter to Pelosi on Friday:
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. 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.
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. Reports of changes to test offerings by the attending physician announced today are misleading as the criteria for receiving a test from the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) remains largely unchanged. I’m concerned this has created confusion and misled everyone who works on Capitol Hill to believe testing options have been expanded.
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.
Our testing criteria 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. Additionally, today provided a stark reminder that you and other members of Congress were able to receive a COVID-19 test, while in other instances essential workers of the House have been denied the same test because your office has failed to implement what you have called for nationwide. This is a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to governing that has been politicized when policies are inconsistently communicated and enforced and falls short of what our constituents deserve.
I reiterate my desire to work with you and stand willing to work with your team to develop and execute a plan that provides comprehensive and continuous health monitoring and testing capabilities for our transient congressional population and all who support the first branch of government.
Five months ago, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declined an offer from the Trump administration to send rapid-result COVID-19 tests to Capitol Hill.
“Congress is grateful for the administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time,” Pelosi and McConnell said. “Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.”