Pelosi announces big expansion of Covid testing for lawmakers


House Democratic leaders will dramatically expand Covid testing for lawmakers as the coronavirus pandemic enters its possibly deadliest phase this fall.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the testing expansion on a private Democratic leadership call Thursday.

Pelosi’s announcement is partially in response to an order from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser imposing new travel restrictions for visitors to the city. Bowser’s order requires visitors to get a negative Covid test within 72 hours of traveling to Washington, D.C. For visitors who plan to stay longer than three days, city officials are asking them to get another test once they’re here.

It’s unclear if that mandate can apply to members and senators.

After consultations with Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, Pelosi said the U.S. Air Force will provide up to 2,000 PCR tests per week for the entire Congress at no cost during the next six weeks. The turnaround time on these tests is six to 12 hours.

If there’s a positive test, the attending physician will perform an additional test to confirm the results.

Lawmakers and staff can already get tested at the Capitol, but these latest move by Pelosi represents an expansion of those screening efforts.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have resisted mandatory testing of lawmakers for months despite pressure from senior colleagues in both parties.

McConnell’s office did not have information on whether the Senate will implement a similar effort.

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