BREAKING NEWS: Oldest Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, 87, announces he has COVID and says he is ‘feeling good’ and quarantining
- Grassley, 87, is Senate president pro tempore and second-oldest member of the body
- After being exposed to the virus Monday he decided to ‘immediately quarantine’ and tested positive Tuesday
- He is third in line to the presidency after Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy pelosi
- News comes a day after Alaska Rep. Don Young, also 87, was released from the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19
Sen. Charles Grassley, the 87-year old president pro tempore of the Senate, announced Tuesday he has coronavirus.
The oldest Republican senator made the announcement by Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, hours after saying he was self-isolating after contact with someone who was infected.
‘I’ve tested positive for coronavirus. I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine,’ he tweeted.
‘I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes + prayers &look fwd to resuming my normal schedule soon.;
The announcement came just as the oldest member of the House, Republican Rep. Don Young, Alaska, left the hospital after testing positive for the virus.
‘I learned today that I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. I will follow my doctors’ orders and immediately quarantine as I await my test results. I’m feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it’s important we all follow public health guidelines to keep each other healthy,’ Grassley said in a statement.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the 87-year old president pro tempore of the Senate, has tested positive for COVID
Young, 87, the longest-serving Republican in the House, was treated for the symptoms of COVID in Alaska.
‘Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,’ Young said in an emailed statement, Alaska Public Radio reported.
Grassley is 87 days younger than the oldest senator, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, also 87.
Grassley’s role as president pro-tempore is largely ceremonial but also puts him high up in the presidential line of succession.
He hasn’t missed a vote since 1993. He was seen in the Capitol Monday, where he commented on a COVID relief package.
He accused Democratic leaders of not wanting to act on a package, then played hardball if they wouldn’t come towards the GOP position of a dramatically scaled back package.
‘I just think if we could have something like a tailored targeted thing, we could get it done. You know, they’re going to have to agree to it or it’s not even going to come up,’ Grassley said.
Grassley is married to his wife of 66 years, Barbara, with whom he has five children, nine grandchildren and as of 2015, eight great-grandchildren.
His absence from the Senate also has potential policy implications in the immediate term.
The conservative who has backed Trump on tax cuts and judicial nominees, joined Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in releasing a report on Hunter Biden ‘corruption’ weeks before Election Day.
Grassley’s exposure has already put on hold the nomination of Judy Shelton, President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returned to the chamber to cast a key vote in a tally Tuesday.
Grassley’s absence and that of Rick Scott, the Florida Republican who is quarantining after contact with someone who tested positive, meant Republicans could not force her through.
Shelton is an unusually caustic critic of the Fed and was opposed by two GOP senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, in Tuesday’s vote.
Senator-elect Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., is likely to join the Senate when the chamber returns from its Thanksgiving break. That could leave Shelton short of support for confirmation even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seeks a revote next month.
Another Republican opponent, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, missed Tuesday’s vote, and his return could cement Shelton’s fate.
Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell initially voted ‘aye’ but changed his vote to reserve the option to call a second tally if he can line up the votes.
Another potential supporter, Bill Cassidy, R-La., missed Tuesday’s vote.
Trump spokesman Judd Deere tweeted Tuesday that the White House remains ‘confident that Judy Shelton will be confirmed upon reconsideration.’
Shelton’s nomination has been sharply partisan for a nominee to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.
The Fed seeks to maintain a degree of political independence, though it is often criticized by members of Congress and in recent years by Trump. The vice chair of the Fed’s board, Richard Clarida, was approved by a vote of 69-26 in August 2018.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is said to be a strong supporter of Shelton’s. The Trump White House has at times struggled to get its nominees on the Fed board. Its previous two picks, economics commentator Stephen Moore and the late Herman Cain, a former GOP presidential candidate, both withdrew without a Senate vote in the face of strong opposition.
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