Merkley tests COVID-19 positive, a complication in 50-50 Senate

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Monday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, an announcement that could throw a wrench in Democrats’ agenda this week in an evenly divided Senate.

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was expected to schedule a preliminary vote this week on a hotly contested domestic terrorism bill. The legislation passed the House last week in a mainly party-line vote, and Senate Republicans have vowed to block it. 

The bill needs 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and it’s not clear if there will be 10 Republicans who will break ranks. Democratic leaders have typically delayed party-line votes if they know some of their members will be absent.

Merkley said he was a close contact to someone who tested positive, and is experiencing “mild” symptoms, which he attributed to being both vaccinated and boosted. 

“This is yet another reminder that COVID-19 is still among us,” Merkley said in a statement. “As Americans make plans before the holiday weekend, I encourage everyone to take steps to make sure the virus is not an uninvited guest.” 

As COVID-19 cases have increased following the elimination of most mask requirements across the nation, lawmakers have been dodging infection. 

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) announced his positive test on Monday, while Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Susie Lee (D-Nev.)  tested positive over the weekend. 

COVID-19 temporarily paused planned votes to advance key Biden administration nominees last month, after Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Vice President Harris all tested positive. 

Tags Al Green Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Coronavirus COVID-19 Jeff Merkley Jeff Merkley Kamala Harris

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