Trump’s offer of rapid coronavirus testing for Congress rejected by Pelosi, McConnell: Report

A helping hand from President Donald Trump has been turned down by both bodies of Congress.

In a rare joint statement on Saturday, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said no to an offer from the president to provide Capitol Hill with rapid coronavirus testing, the Washington Examiner reported.

“Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time,” the congressional leaders wrote, according to the Examiner. They went on:

Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly.

“Tremendous” testing capacity

The pair’s rejection came after the Trump administration tried to give Congress a “welcome back” gift: so-called Abbott Tests for COVID-19. According to the Examiner, the tests take just “minutes to work.”

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar tweeted late last week that the administration would be “sending [three] Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for [the Senate’s] use,” NPR reported. But it seems the Senate doesn’t want them — nor does the House.

This, despite the fact that senators are set to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, according to Politico. The outlet further reported:

The Trump administration’s offer to provide rapid testing came after Dr. Brian Monahan, Capitol Hill’s attending physician, informed top GOP officials Thursday that only senators and staffers who were ill would be tested. In addition, he said the test results would take two days or longer — a contrast with the White House, where anyone who meets with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence receives a rapid results test.

The House of Representatives will not be returning to Washington this week, a decision that was made after some House members called the move “dangerous,” the Examiner reported separately.

Political games

For his part, President Trump has characterized the congressional leaders’ rejection as foolish, saying Saturday that the only reason they have to turn it down is “politics.”

Instead of the Abbott Test, McConnell and Pelosi said Congress will “use the current testing protocols that the Office of the Attending Physician has put in place until these speedier technologies become more widely available,” the Examiner reported.

In the meantime, Dr. Monahan has urged senators and their staff “to maintain [six] feet of distance, limit the number of people in offices, and wear masks when possible,” according to NPR. Hopefully, that will be enough to curb any potential outbreak on the Hill.

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