Chuck Grassley, Second Oldest Senator, Tests Positive for Covid

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, an 87-year-old in the line of succession to the presidency, announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Grassley reported the test results late in the day, after beginning a quarantine Tuesday morning following notification he had been exposed to the virus. On Monday, Grassley gave a speech on the Senate floor, without wearing a mask.

Senator Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said Grassley had also attended a meeting in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Monday evening.

”He’s been great about wearing his mask and I think great about taking care of himself,” Blunt added.

Asked if others at the meeting were taking steps to self-quarantine, Blunt said, “You’d have to ask them. I was, like, 12 feet away from him but I mean, that’s why we’re in that big room.”

Grassley’s absence from the Senate contributed to the failure on Tuesday of the GOP majority to secure confirmation of Federal Reserve nominee Judy Shelton. President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for the Fed board was blocked after two Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing her, with two other GOP members absent.

McConnell now has a compressed timetable to try again, and would need missing Republicans to return.

Grassley is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and previously led the Judiciary Committee. His missed vote on Shelton Tuesday was his first since 1993, after a record 8,927 votes in the Senate, according to his office.

Presidential Succession

“While I still feel fine, the test came back positive for the coronavirus. I am continuing to follow my doctors’ orders and CDC guidelines,” Grassley said in a statement. “I’ll be keeping up on my work for the people of Iowa from home.”

He didn’t provide details on how he was exposed to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 quarantine for at least 10 days if they have no symptoms. If they do show symptoms, the CDC recommends a quarantine of at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours after a patient is symptom-free.

Grassley is third in the line of succession to the presidency, after Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because of his position as president pro tempore of the Senate, a post usually given to the longest-serving member of the majority party.

He is also the second-oldest current member of the Senate, after California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

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