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Grassley tests positive for COVID-19 after missing first roll call in 27 years

The Iowa senator's voting streak is over after 8,927 consecutive votes

Senate President Pro Tempore Charles E. Grassley said Tuesday evening that he has tested positive for COVID-19, after missing his first roll call vote in more than 27 years earlier in the day.

“I’ve tested positive for coronavirus. I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home,” the Iowa Republican tweeted.

The Finance Committee chairman also issued a more formal statement, to the same effect.

“While I still feel fine, the test came back positive for the coronavirus,” Grassley said. “I am continuing to follow my doctors’ orders and CDC guidelines. I’ll be keeping up on my work for the people of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes and prayers, and look forward to resuming my normal schedule when I can. In the meantime, my offices across Iowa and in Washington remain open and ready to serve Iowans.”

Grassley said in a statement earlier Tuesday that he was in self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. His voting streak ended at 8,927 consecutive votes, according to his office.

Rep. Don Young, the Alaska lawmaker who is the longest serving Republican in the House, also recently tested positive for COVID-19.

The 87-year-old Grassley was on Capitol Hill on Monday evening for the Senate’s first vote of the week to limit debate on the latest of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees to reach the Senate floor.

Until Tuesday, Grassley last missed roll call votes on July 14, 1993, when the senator was traveling with then-President Bill Clinton to tour flooding damage in Iowa during what the National Weather Service described as the Great Flood of 1993, which devastated Iowa and other states across the Great Plains.

Grassley set the record, in terms of time since a missed vote, back in January 2016. Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., was the previous record-holder at 22 years, five months and 28 days. Proxmire, who died in 2005, left office in 1989.

The record-setting Grassley streak ends 27 years, four months and three days after it began.

While senators are missing votes because of COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis, there remains no widespread Senate testing program. The Office of the Attending Physician has capacity to conduct some coronavirus testing, and the House has begun to make testing more available for lawmakers.

However, senators continue to come and go from the nation’s capital, without routine testing that is being required by an order from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for many overnight visitors to the District from the many states where there are 10 or more cases of coronavirus for each 100,000 people in the population.

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