US senator Grassley contracts Covid, ends 27-year vote streak

Washington (AFP) –

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US Republican Senator Chuck Grassley tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, the latest of some two dozen American lawmakers who have contracted Covid-19 this year.

By entering quarantine under doctors' recommendations and government health guidelines, Grassley was unable to vote on the floor, which brought his record of 27 years without missing a single Senate vote to a halt.

"I've tested positive for coronavirus. I'll b following my doctors' orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine," tweeted Iowa's Grassley, who at 87 is the second oldest senator in the 100-member chamber.

Grassley is the second US senator to isolate this week, after Florida's Rick Scott announced he was in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for the virus.

Scott has tested negative but remains at home.

Multiple lawmakers tested positive before returning to Washington for a November session, including 87-year-old Republican congressman Don Young of Alaska, the oldest member of the House of Representatives.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, the outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair, and House Republican Tim Walberg have tested positive in recent days.

Grassley said he is "feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms."

Congress has been forced into recess on multiple occasions since outbreaks swelled in the United States in March. Nearly 250,000 Americans have now died from the virus.

A September outbreak was linked to a White House Rose Garden ceremony where President Donald Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee.

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive as did dozens of others in attendance, including Republican senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis.

Grassley is an iron man of sorts, having cast a staggering 8,927 consecutive votes over a record 27 years without missing a single roll call -- until Tuesday vote on a Federal Reserve nominee.

The last time Grassley missed a vote was way back in July of 1993, when he toured flood damage in his home state with president Bill Clinton.

"I'm disappointed I wasn't able to vote today in the Senate, but the health of others is more important than any record," said Grassley.

While he claims the longest period of time without missing a US Senate vote, the record for the most consecutive roll call votes is held by Senator William Proxmire, at 10,252.