Republicans say they’re being asked to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to join a regular meeting of the House Intelligence Committee and they will not comply, the Washington Examiner reports.
Members reportedly received an email Tuesday night with a request from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HSPCI) Chair Adam Schiff, R-Calif., that members who have not recently recovered from a positive test result have a PCR test done before attending a 10 a.m. in-person briefing on Iran on Thursday.
“Chairman Schiff believes the members of Congress should be tested just to show up for work, and we will not comply,” Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, the Republican ranking member on the intelligence committee, said at a press conference Wednesday.
According to the email, briefing attendees were also requested to wear N95 or KN95 masks.
Schiff consulted with the Office of the Attending Physician for Congress prior to making his request, the email said.
“HSPCI staff and IC briefers in attendance will be similarly requested to obtain a test prior to the event,” the email said. “The chairman appreciates the cooperation of all attendees in order to reduce the risks as members are briefed on this critical topic.”
Committee members who refuse to provide proof of a negative test will not be barred from the hearing, according to an intelligence committee official who spoke with the Washington Examiner.
Schiff does not intend to confirm compliance with the request, the official told the Examiner, but “given the current high rate of infections and the necessity of conducting classified hearings in a confined space, the chairman believes everyone should choose to prioritize the health and safety of all attendees.”
This is not the first time Republicans in Congress have protested COVID-19 requests or requirements.
On Jan. 5, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said her refusal to wear masks in Congress has led to thousands of dollars in fines.
"I'm up to almost $90,000 in fines on the House floor because I believe as a representative, in order to represent the people, I have to be willing to do it myself,” she said. “So, that's why I don't wear a mask. I'm just trying to fight the fight for the people who are against it."
Reacting to Washington, D.C.’s new rule of showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., pledged to bring his own lunch to work or order food from Virginia, Insider reported.
"My office will not comply," he tweeted on Friday. "We will not show papers. We will not order takeout from restaurants that require papers for dine-in."
In making his request, Turner said Schiff is trying to benefit from his position as a member of Congress.
“The Biden administration failed to plan for needed testing for the American people,” he said. “Schiff believes that he should have a privilege that the average American worker does not.”
Criticizing Schiff, Turner said the chairman is requesting the negative tests “while Americans struggle to just get basic access to testing; while American workers every day risk exposure to the COVID virus; while American families or caregivers for the elderly worry about exposing their family members to COVID; while this administration has failed to provide sufficient tests in preparation for the omicron surge; where American workers and families are facing vaccine mandates and vaccine ID mandates to go to restaurants and parents are dealing with closed schools.”
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