By Melanie Zanona, CNN
Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the panel’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, has requested that members receive a negative Covid test before they participate in an upcoming committee briefing.
Turner, however, said Republicans on the committee will not comply with Schiff’s request.
“The American public does not have this privilege, and we will not comply,” Turner said at a GOP news conference on Wednesday.
Schiff consulted with the Capitol physician before making the request and cited the recent surge in Covid cases, according to an email his office sent to committee members, which Turner shared with reporters after the news conference. While Schiff has requested a negative test from members, is it not required.
This is just the latest example of how Republicans are defying the stepped-up health protocols in the Capitol, much to the frustration of Democrats.
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, for example, has accrued $88,000 in fines for refusing to wear a mask on the House floor — or roughly half her congressional salary. The fines are automatically docked from lawmakers’ paychecks.
Meanwhile, at least two Republicans — Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Bob Good of Virginia — are boycotting the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP establishment that is now requiring proof of vaccination, as mandated by DC rules.
But House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said he won’t be following the boycott.
“No, I want to see us challenge these mandates,” Scalise said. “I don’t penalize the company for having that dumped on them.”
During the news conference, Republicans also railed against the Biden administration’s handling of Covid, even as many in the GOP continue to resist policies to curb the virus and spread misinformation about the vaccine.
“This was the signature campaign platform that Joe Biden ran on. How many times during the campaign did candidate Joe Biden say I’m going to shut down the virus? He actually bragged that he had a plan on day one to combat the virus,” Scalise said.
Scalise, who has said publicly that he received the vaccine, was also pressed on whether he agrees with former President Donald Trump that politicians who don’t reveal their booster status are “gutless.”
“Ultimately, these are personal decisions,” Scalise said. “This is a health care decision and the government right now is treating it as if it’s something that they can just require people to do.”
When asked whether Republicans would support a supplemental spending package to help combat the latest Covid wave, Scalise said that there is still $800 billion in unspent money from previous Covid relief packages.
“If there were a need, that’s where you would look to go and address it — the money that’s unspent,” Scalise said.
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