Four House Republicans Traveled With Trump On Air Force One This Week. Then They Voted In The House.
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also announced Friday morning that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON — Four House Republicans — Minnesota Reps. Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, and Pete Stauber and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — have been tested for the coronavirus Friday after traveling on Air Force One with President Donald Trump earlier this week. All four voted in the House of Representatives on Thursday evening before Trump tested positive for the coronavirus early Friday.
Emmer, Hagedorn, and Stauber traveled with Trump to and from the president’s rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday, and voted in the House again on Friday before releasing any coronavirus test results. Jordan traveled with Trump on Air Force One to Tuesday’s debate and was not present at Friday's votes after voting the night before. Hagedorn and Jordan both announced Friday afternoon that they had tested negative, and Stauber's office told BuzzFeed News Friday that he had tested negative as well.
The coronavirus’s incubation period can be up to 14 days. False negatives are possible particularly in the first few days after infection.
Another Republican, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, announced Friday morning that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He said in a statement that he had been experiencing “symptoms consistent with longtime allergies,” and got a test “out of abundance of caution.”
Lee met with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Tuesday and posted a picture with the judge on Twitter in which neither of them is wearing a mask.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has traveled with Trump on Air Force One this week, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have both been on Capitol Hill this week to negotiate a new coronavirus relief package. Mnuchin met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, while Meadows met with McConnell the same day. Both Meadows and Mnuchin said they tested negative on Friday.
Emmer, who also serves as the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that he currently is not exhibiting symptoms, but that he has been tested and is awaiting results. The statement did not say whether he will self-quarantine, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Stauber said in a statement that prior to boarding Air Force One, he tested negative for the virus, and added that he was tested again Friday morning.
“This morning, the House Attending Physician deemed the Congressman to be ‘low-risk’ and advised the Congressman to continue his Congressional duties, including voting, as long as he practiced social distancing and wore a mask. Our office is currently working remotely,” a spokesperson for Stauber’s office said in an email to BuzzFeed News Friday.
Before he announced his negative result Friday, Hagedorn's office said he would continue his normal duties.
“Because Congressman Hagedorn’s interactions with the president and others who tested positive did not meet the criteria of close contact — within a distance of six feet for a duration of more than 15 minutes — [Attending Physician of the US Congress] Dr. Monahan advised the congressman to continue his official duties, such as voting on the House floor, wear a mask, and delay air travel until the results of his COVID-19 test are confirmed as ‘negative,’” the statement from Hagedorn’s office said.
None of the three members responded to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment on what interactions the Minnesota Republicans had with other members of Congress while voting at the Capitol on Thursday.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said on Fox & Friends on Friday morning that he would also be tested after traveling with Trump to Tuesday’s debate. Jordan said in the interview that he was not concerned about having caught the virus and that he was only with the president for “a brief, brief amount of time.”
More than a dozen members of Congress have tested positive for the virus, and several dozens of others have self-quarantined in recent months due to exposure to the virus. Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah were the first to test positive in early March, and 15 other members of Congress have tested or been presumed positive since then, according to NPR.
While many congressional hearings have been held remotely or partially remotely, the House and Senate have continued to meet in person despite the pandemic, and members have continued frequent travel to and from Washington, DC. Many Republicans on the Hill have refused to wear masks.
Pelosi instituted a mask mandate in July, after Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask while on the Hill, tested positive.
There is no standardized COVID-19 testing at the Capitol.
This story was updated after Reps. Hagedorn and Jordan announced they tested negative for coronavirus.
This story was updated after Reps. Emmer, Hagedorn, and Stauber voted in the House again on Friday.