Pelosi announces COVID-19 testing expansion for House

Pelosi announces COVID-19 testing expansion for House
© Reuters/Pool

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that the House will soon proceed with an expansion of COVID-19 testing due to the Air Force providing up to 2,000 tests for the entire Congress.

Pelosi made the announcement during a Democratic leadership call on the same day that D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Overnight Health Care: Biden tells federal workers to get vaccinated or submit to testing | President calls on states to offer 0 vaccine incentives | DC brings back indoor mask mandate starting Saturday House GOP stages mask mandate protest MORE unveiled new rules requiring travelers to the nation's capital to test negative for COVID-19 before and after arrival.

The Air Force will provide the COVID-19 tests for Congress at no additional cost for the next six weeks, according to a senior Democratic aide. The aide added that a longer-term solution is being discussed.

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Bowser said Thursday that people traveling to Washington from states considered COVID-19 hot spots would no longer have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and would instead have to get tested within 72 hours of arriving in the city.

However, the testing requirement won't be enforced at points of entry like roads or airports. Instead, Bowser indicated that places like hotels, employers and universities could require proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Bowser said she is still encouraging people not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, but acknowledged that "we also know that people are going to come here."

Many lawmakers — who regularly have to travel back and forth between their districts all over the country and Washington — have been calling for an expansion of COVID-19 testing on Capitol Hill for months.

The previous order from Bowser requiring people to quarantine if they had traveled for "non-essential" activities didn't apply to members of Congress since their travel is considered essential for government work.

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The calls most recently grew louder after President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE tested positive for COVID-19 last month. But House members have largely been out of Washington since early October and the chamber isn't scheduled to come back into session until Nov. 16.

The White House has had a rapid testing regime in place — which caught Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE's (R-Texas) case in July — for everyone who comes into contact with the president.

Same-day COVID-19 testing has long been available from the Capitol's attending physician for lawmakers who have symptoms or think they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Staffers in contact with known COVID-19 cases in the Capitol can also get tested.

But unlike the White House, testing has not been mandatory.

Pelosi did institute a requirement that everyone wear masks on the House floor and in the surrounding office buildings in July following Gohmert's diagnosis. Gohmert, along with some other House GOP lawmakers, had at times not worn a mask on the House floor or while attending committee hearings.

Compliance with the House mask mandate has been virtually universal since it went into effect. GOP lawmakers who had previously resisted pressure to wear masks on the House floor quickly complied once they became required.

More than a dozen other House members have tested positive for COVID-19, including Reps. Mike BostMichael (Mike) J. BostMORE (R-Ill.), Salud CarbajalSalud CarbajalBiden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead Capitol riots spark fear of Trump's military powers in final days House Democrats push Biden's Pentagon pick on civilian control of military MORE (D-Calif.), Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel Banks blames Pelosi for Jan. 6 'breakdown of security' Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-Ill.), Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartDefense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors Bottom line GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry MORE (R-Fla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph Cunningham'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Joe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor MORE (D-S.C.), Neal DunnNeal Patrick DunnSix takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Acting FTC chair urges Congress to revive agency authority after Supreme Court decision OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters MORE (R-Fla.), Morgan GriffithHoward (Morgan) Morgan GriffithGOP lawmakers press social media giants for data on impacts on children's mental health Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack House Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs MORE (R-Va.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jahana HayesJahana HayesBipartisan lawmakers highlight COVID-19 impact on mental health, addiction Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill MORE (D-Conn.), Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyLobbying world Lobbying world Liz Cheney says McConnell, McCarthy are heads of GOP MORE (R-Pa.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Pa.) and Tom RiceHugh (Tom) Thompson RicePro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE (R-S.C.).