By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Sen. Rand Paul has drawn a lot of flak this week for not quarantining himself while waiting for results from his coronavirus test, with USA Today’s editorial board saying the Kentucky Republican has been “failing to lead by example.”
Paul, for his part, now has defended his moves in an op-ed in USA Today .
“I did not quarantine while awaiting a coronavirus test because I did not meet the criteria for quarantine. In fact, I did not meet the current criteria for even being tested, much less quarantined,” wrote the lawmaker, who is also a doctor specializing in ophthalmology.
“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a T, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,” Paul added in his column published late Tuesday, noting that he got tested as a precaution out of concern for having a damaged lung.
“Instead of hounding people who got tested and then quarantined themselves, perhaps we need to broaden the testing and quit the finger-wagging.”
Paul is the first U.S. senator to test positive for the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19, and two members of the House of Representatives also have contracted the virus. These developments have sparked more calls for Congress to adopt remote voting and work from home as millions of Americans are doing during the coronavirus crisis.
“When we have a pandemic affecting every corner of society and we are asking people to stay in their homes, we must take steps to make certain we have the ability to convene the Senate and get our work done even if we can’t safely gather in the Capitol,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio in a joint Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday. They’ve rolled out a bipartisan resolution that would amend Senate rules to allow for remote voting during a national crisis.
Over in the House, California Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Eric Swalwell sent a letter on Monday to the chamber’s rules committee that called for remote voting and that was signed by dozens of their colleagues. But a report from that panel has poured cold water on adopting that approach in the short term, saying the “decision should be a multi-committee effort with substantial study.”
“This change cannot be implemented overnight, and likely cannot be accomplished in time to address the current crisis,” the House Rules Committee report says . “Today, the House could pass legislation by unanimous consent, which does not require a quorum; or by a voice vote, where the House presumes a quorum is present unless a point of order is made.”
The Senate is in session this week and on track to pass a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package on Wednesday, while House lawmakers are largely back home in their districts and expected to try to approve the package on Thursday by unanimous consent. With that approach, there is a risk that one of the House’s 435 lawmakers could object and make it necessary for members to travel back to Washington, D.C., for a regular roll-call vote.
U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.17% /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.06% have been hammered this month by coronavirus-related worries, but they closed sharply higher Tuesday, with analysts pinning the gains on stimulus hopes. The Dow industrials also were trading higher on Wednesday afternoon.