What was Rand Paul thinking?


Can we all agree now that members of Congress should be allowed to vote remotely? If not, why?

Five Republican senators are in self-quarantine as I write this (although not every case is related to Paul), which means the GOP is momentarily at a 48/47 advantage in the chamber. If any more senators test positive, that’ll trigger another cascade of quarantines. We could be staring at a quorum problem very quickly, right in the thick of needing a massive fiscal relief package to pass ASAP.

It’s not clear when Paul got tested but it’s clear why he thought he needed to be. He was at a fundraiser in Kentucky on March 7; by March 15 local papers were reporting that several attendees had later tested positive. Why didn’t Paul immediately self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution, like Ted Cruz did after learning that someone at CPAC was infected?

Isn’t this guy a doctor by trade?

“Privately, some lawmakers were incensed that Mr. Paul had continued to circulate among colleagues when he knew he might have the virus,” notes the Times. Not so privately in some cases!

Kevin Cramer tactfully described Paul’s decision to keep showing up to work — even after being tested — as “peculiar,” saying, “He’s a physician. He’s able to do his own risk assessment, and he evidently miscalculated. People have self-quarantined for less.” Paul was on the Senate floor on Wednesday, per the Times, and was at luncheons with Senate Republicans on Thursday and Friday. Realistically, every Republican who was at those meetings should self-quarantine. But they can’t right now because the country has urgent business in Congress and McConnell won’t allow remote voting.

As I’m writing this, news is breaking:

Klobuchar’s husband began coughing up blood and is now on oxygen due to trouble breathing but she hasn’t been near him in two weeks so she isn’t being tested. She’s not the only senator who’ll need to be away from her spouse for awhile either. Mitt Romney’s one of the five Republicans in self-quarantine thanks to his exposure to Paul. His wife Ann has MS and he can’t risk passing the disease along to her, in case he has it. Hopefully he can fight it off without needing treatment if he does; Ann Romney’s odds of accomplishing that would doubtless be poorer.

The weirdest detail about Paul’s cavalier insistence on carrying on with business as usual is that he had special reasons to take his possible exposure to the disease seriously. He had part of his lung removed last year due to complications from the assault by his neighbor in 2017. A respiratory illness as ferocious as COVID-19 is even more of a risk to his life than it is to the average 57-year-old’s.

What was he doing swimming in the Senate pool after being tested?

There are no answers as of this morning but the pressure on McConnell to allow remote voting is growing intense. While we wait for an explanation, here’s the president reacting yesterday to the news about Romney having to self-quarantine. Please note that he’s definitely not being sarcastic, just like I’m not being sarcastic in saying that Trump certainly doesn’t have severe personality disorders that make him much more of a liability to the country in this crisis than an asset.

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