Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator, announced Tuesday he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Grassley, 87, the senior senator from Iowa, said earlier in day that he was quarantining after being exposed to the virus and would work virtually as he waits for results of a test. He did not say how he was exposed.
Then later in the afternoon he confirmed that he had been infected.
I’ve tested positive for coronavirus. I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. 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
November 17, 2020
“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.
The Iowa Republican is the president pro tempore of the Senate, meaning he presides over the Senate in the absence of Mike Pence – the vice-president of the US is also the president of the Senate – and is third in the line of presidential succession, behind Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, should anything befall the president and leave him unable to carry out his job.
The president pro tempore is the senator in the majority party who has served the longest.
By missing votes this week, Grassley will break a 27-year streak of not missing a single Senate vote. According to his office, the last time he missed a vote was in 1993, when he was in Iowa assisting with relief efforts after severe flooding.
Grassley was unable to vote on Tuesday on Judy Shelton’s controversial nomination by Donald Trump to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Her confirmation ended up being blocked for the time being, with some Republicans, including Grassley, absent and some joining Democrats in voting “no”.
Grassley was first elected to the US House in 1974 and then to the Senate in 1980. He is the chairman of the Senate finance committee and is expected to become the top Republican on the Senate judiciary committee when a new Senate session begins in January.
Before quarantining, Grassley had spoken on the Senate floor without wearing a mask.
Last week he bucked the president when he joined the call for Joe Biden to receive daily intelligence briefings, with those briefings currently withheld from the president-elect because the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the election and Trump’s election campaign is mounting long-shot legal challenges to the result.
Grassley was asked by CNN whether Biden should have access to classified briefings. “I would think – especially on classified briefings – the answer is yes,” Grassley said.