Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse MORE (R-Wis.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the third senator to announce in the past two days that they had contracted the virus.
Johnson’s office said in a statement on Saturday that he was exposed to an individual on Sept. 29 who has since tested positive for the virus.
“After learning of this exposure, the senator was tested yesterday afternoon. This test came back positive,” his office said. “Senator Johnson feels healthy and is not experiencing symptoms. He will remain isolated until given the all-clear by his doctor."
Johnson’s diagnosis comes as the country is reeling after President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is now at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a move the White House said was being taken “out of an abundance of caution.”
In addition to Johnson, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda MORE (R-N.C.) both said on Friday that they had tested positive for COVID-19.
Unlike Lee and Tillis, Johnson is not a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was not at the White House on Saturday for Trump’s announcement that he was picking Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE (R-Neb.), who was at the White House on Saturday, tested negative on Friday but a spokesman said that he would work remotely from Nebraska until Oct. 12 and receive further testing.
The absence of the four GOP senators caps Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE's (R-Ky.) normal 53-47 majority at 49 senators.
Before Friday, only two senators had been known to test positive for the virus: Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP anger with Fauci rises Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' MORE (R-Ky.) and Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist Legislators look to expand health care access through telehealth, biosimilars Infrastructure deal is proof that Congress can still do good, bipartisan work MORE (R-La.), in March and August, respectively.
Democratic Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineLiberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill Menendez jabs State official over Colombian group's terror designation MORE (Va.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators urging federal investigation into Liberty University's handling of sexual assault claims Crucial talks on Biden agenda enter homestretch Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE (Pa.) previously said they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, an indication they had previously been exposed to the virus.
The uptick in cases in the Senate will likely pour fuel on already simmering frustrations about the lack of a formal testing program in Congress.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (D-Calif.) and McConnell previously rejected an offer from the White House to have rapid testing at the Capitol, saying at the time that they wanted to keep resources directed to front-line workers.
But several lawmakers on Friday urged congressional leaders to establish a testing program in the Capitol, where lawmakers, who travel back to their home states on the weekend, stay in close contact with each other, their staff and a scaled-back group of reporters.
“This episode demonstrates that the Senate needs a testing and contact tracing program for Senators, staff, and all who work in the Capitol complex. We simply cannot allow the administration's cavalier attitude to adversely affect this branch of government," Senate Minority Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting Murphy criticizes anti-abortion lawmakers following Michigan school shooting Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (D-Conn.) added that McConnell should require testing for every senator who attended the White House event, saying the potential exposure “could pose a major threat to the safety of the Capitol complex.”
“Furthermore, Senator McConnell needs to finally move forward with a mandatory mask policy in the Capitol complex and implementation of a regular testing program for all Senators and all Senate staff,” he added.
McConnell, however, gave no signal while speaking in Kentucky on Friday that he intends to either change the Senate’s schedule until the risk of potential exposure is known, or establish a formal testing program.
McConnell, during the event at a Kentucky hospital, also declined to say if he had been tested this week.
“We're following the advice of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC in how we operate the Senate and so far we've been able to do it quite successfully,” McConnell said when asked about a formal testing regime.
-- Updated at 10 a.m.