McConnell admits he hasn't been to the White House in months because it's not safe


But he has not implemented safety requirements in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that he had not been to the White House in two months due to the Trump administration's weak COVID-19 safety protocols.

"I haven't actually been to the White House since August the 6th, because my impression was that their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I suggested that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing," McConnell told reporters in Kentucky.

The comments come as Donald Trump, his wife, and a growing number of his staff and allies have tested positive for the coronavirus. Experts believe many of the cases of infection can be traced to a celebration on Sept. 26 of Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Attendees at that event, which involved both an indoor reception and an outdoor ceremony in the Rose Garden, did not stay six feet apart or wear face masks as recommended in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines. Instead, the administration relied solely on questionably accurate rapid testing.

But while McConnell has embraced mask use, he has not followed the lead of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives and required their use in the Senate.

"It appears not to be necessary since everybody seems to be doing it," he told PBS in late July, noting, "Well, we have had good luck without a requirement. I believe just about every one of my members is wearing a mask.

"And we have since the 1st of May when we resumed," McConnell claimed. "And I think we have been following the guidelines of the Capitol physician, properly socially distanced, wearing a mask, which I've had on till I stepped up to the microphone to talk to you."

But not all of the members of his own caucus have worn masks. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah both reportedly declined to wear them, even after Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX) tested positive in July. Paul claimed in May that he did not need to wear a mask because he had "immunity" from a previous infection with the virus. Doctors have not yet determined whether survivors develop immunity to the virus or how long such immunity might last.

In recent days, McConnell has vowed to plow forward with a rushed confirmation process for Barrett, even as Lee and two other Republican senators recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

Sen. Ron Johnson (WI), who announced over the weekend that he tested positive, told a Denver radio station on Monday that he would show up to vote for Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court even if it required him wearing "a moon suit."

McConnell's concern about the Trump White House being unsafe appears to be quite justified.

Trump and dozens of people in his inner circle have tested positive in recent days. Mask-wearing has reportedly been discouraged and mocked in the White House.

Trump himself has ignored quarantine guidelines since checking himself out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday after he was hospitalized with the virus.

McConnell has largely defended Trump's botched response to the pandemic, even going so far as to claim the impeachment process "diverted the attention" of the administration from the virus.

He has also blocked a pandemic relief bill passed in the House of Representatives on May 15 in for the past five months, not allowing it to come up for a vote in the Senate.

That bill would provide trillions of dollars in response to the economic and public health challenges of the pandemic, including $75 billion to enhance coronavirus tracing, testing, and treatment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.