House GOP shames COVID-positive lawmaker for working from home

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A National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson criticized Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) for not wanting to take the virus to work with him.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday after being exposed to the virus and experiencing two days of symptoms.

A spokesperson for the National Republican Campaign Committee attacked Malinowski for working from home rather than bringing the virus to work with him.

Malinowski was part of a recent bipartisan delegation to Ukraine. Since returning, multiple members have tested positive for the virus. After feeling mild symptoms on Tuesday, Malinowski decided to isolate and get tested.

He filed a proxy letter on Wednesday, noting that due to the pandemic, he would be working remotely and designating a colleague to cast votes on his behalf.

On Thursday morning, Samantha Bullock, a regional press secretary for the National Republican Campaign Committee, appeared to criticize Malinowski for following COVID-19 safety protocols and accuse him of hypocrisy for appearing on CNN for a remote interview.

".@Malinowski: 'I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to' COVID. Also @Malinowski: does CNN Skype interview from Washington DC???" Bullock tweeted, sharing photos of the proxy letter and his CNN appearance from his residence.

On Thursday afternoon, Malinowski confirmed that he had received a positive COVID-19 test result.

I want to let everyone know that I tested positive today, but am feeling fine," Malinowski tweeted. "This means I have a virus that killed 3,622 Americans yesterday, yet am only experiencing the most mild symptoms, thanks to the vaccine + booster. Please get boosted everyone!"

Malinowski is using the proxy voting rule exactly as it was intended. By working from home and designating a proxy, he was able to make sure that his district continues to be represented while avoiding spreading the virus to his colleagues and staff.

Bullock's tweet was quickly shared by at least two Republican operatives with ties to the campaign of GOP state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., who lost to Malinowski in 2020 and plans to run against him again this year.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recently said his party would eliminate proxy voting if it wins back the majority in November, and complained that "members use" the rule "for other reasons."

He's right about that. Last year, four members of McCarthy's party used the proxy voting rule to skip out on work by falsely claiming they were unable to be in Washington, D.C., due to the pandemic.

Rather than working from home, as Malinowski did, Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Devin Nunes (R-CA) traveled to Orlando, Florida, to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

"I think people should show up to be paid. I think people should work together across the aisle. And if you're here, that's when you can make that happen. And fortunately, in the next year we'll change that," McCarthy said.

The National Republican Campaign Committee did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.