WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The U.S. Senate returned to the capitol Monday, soon after Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle declined rapid testing for lawmakers.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said lawmakers should be considered essential employees because they need to pass legislation that will help the country throughout the pandemic.
“We need to be back in Washington in order to pass additional legislation to help states…to help fight this virus,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said. “I think we can credibly be deemed essential workers if we’re actually in the Senate working on a response to the virus.”
But Murphy said the upcoming Senate agenda is primarily focused on confirming presidential appointments and not the coronavirus.
“My hope is that if senators are in town this week, there’s going to be discussions across the aisle about what should be apart of this next relief package,” Murphy said. “If we’re just here to do judges and nominations then that’s a wasted opportunity.”
The return to legislative business comes as Congressional leaders from both parties turned down rapid COVID-19 tests for lawmakers, arguing that they should be reserved for front line workers.
“The bottom line is Congress shouldn’t be given any special preference,” Murphy argued. “We’re a workforce just like any other workforce.”
“That’s their decision to make,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday. “The moment we heard about even the inquiry about having tests for Congress, we acted,” she said.
While McEnany acknowledged the decision Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that turning down the tests means Congressional leaders believe they are “not essential.”