McCarthy breaks with McConnell over Trump’s testing offer for Congress
“Yeah I agree with that decision. But I think even now Leader McConnell must admit that we don’t have enough tests,” Schumer told reporters on Monday afternoon as the Senate came back into session. “Why isn’t he focusing on that as we come back here instead of the kind of things he’s talking about?”
Among top congressional leaders, McCarthy is on an island. But the remarks from the top House Republican align with the president and break with the joint, bipartisan decision over the weekend by the Democratic speaker of the House and the Senate’s GOP leader.
Although Pelosi (D-Calif.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Saturday that lawmakers were “grateful” for the administration’s “generous offer,” they added that Congress “wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.”
Members of Congress would instead rely on the testing procedures outlined by the Office of the Attending Physician until “these speedier technologies become more widely available,” Pelosi and McConnell said.
The White House balked at the rejection from Capitol Hill, with Trump tweeting Saturday evening that there was “No reason to turn it down, except politics,” and insisting the United States has “plenty of testing.”
“Interesting? By Congress not wanting the special 5 minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not ‘essential,’” the president wrote in another tweet Monday morning. “In any event, we have great testing capacity, and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!”
Last week, the Capitol’s attending physician told top Republican staffers that the Capitol lacked capacity to test all senators and that each test would take two days or more. The news reverberated throughout Washington as the Senate came back — and as Pelosi and House Democrats decided to delay their return for a week.
McCarthy sided with Trump over his fellow congressional leaders and described the Capitol complex as a “mini city” within Washington that is susceptible to unpredictable spikes in coronavirus cases, just like any other part of the country.