Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced Tuesday.
“Tonite the Office of House Physician informed me that I’ve tested positive for Covid 19 & am quarantined,” he tweeted. “As recommended, I received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Dec 18 & also recently tested negative for Covid on New Years Day.”
Brady – who was on the floor voting this week, including on Sunday – added that he will “Begin treatment tomorrow” and should “be fine.”
Over 50 members of Congress have tested positive for Covid-19 or coronavirus antibodies, or were presumed positive. The US passed 21 million cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, as the record number of hospital patients Tuesday topped 131,200, per the Covid Tracking Project.
News of Brady’s diagnosis comes on the heels of another member of the Texas Republican delegation, Rep. Kay Granger, testing positive for the virus, and on the eve of Congress gathering to certify the Electoral College vote of the 2020 election – an event where social distancing guidelines will be all but abandoned. The joint session of Congress will mean as many as 535 members that comprise the House and Senate will come together in the House chamber at one time.
In a memo obtained by CNN, the Sergeant At Arms and House Physician issued official guidance on Tuesday to members that they should only physically go to the Joint Session on Wednesday if they are going to speak. If they want to speak, it says they should contact leadership, the memo reads, stating that, “Unless participating in the joint session, Members are encouraged to remain in their offices unless called to vote.”
Minority Leader Steny Hoyer said Monday that the chamber is working to maintain more safety protocols but acknowledged that keeping what could be 535 members in compliance will not be easy.
Contrary to the rules that governed the opening session in the House – which limited the number of members on the floor to 72, but was rendered moot when a majority of the House gathered en masse on the floor following a call for a recorded vote by Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy – there won’t be a limit on the number of people in the chamber on Wednesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.
The House is set to deploy the same mitigation measures that have been in place – mandated mask wearing while on the floor, marking off seats to maintain social distancing, and opening the gallery for members to spread out. And, according to the rules governing the certification, members are not required to be in the chamber, and are highly encouraged to watch the proceedings from their offices.
However, the aide said, few members are expected to want to miss the debate of the certification process and leadership is expecting a very full chamber – which means hundreds of members are expected to gather together on the House floor amid a pandemic.
Voting, when it occurs, will happen in the same seven blocks that were used during Sunday’s roll call vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will again allow proxy voting through February 18, which allows members to vote through another member.
CNN’s Kristin Wilson, Lauren Fox, Manu Raju, Christina Maxouris, Jason Hanna and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.