Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he speaks to President Donald Trump frequently. Still, he has avoided visiting the White House over concerns that officials had not implemented adequate safety procedures for COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, McConnell said, “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,” he explained.
Later, McConnell said, “I personally didn’t feel that [the Trump admin] were approaching the protection from this illness in the same way that I thought was appropriate for the Senate.”
McConnell, at his second event in KY just now, repeats what he said earlier.— Julie Tsirkin (@JulieNBCNews) October 8, 2020
"I personally didn't feel that [the Trump admin] were approaching the protection from this illness in the same way that I thought was appropriate for the Senate." https://t.co/jLkBQfTsjW
McConnell’s comments come about a week after Trump tested positive for COVID-19. After the president’s positive test, three Republican senators, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and 34 White House staffers and “other contacts” tested positive for the virus.
Congressional leaders have demanded answers and transparency about the outbreak as they accused White House officials of withholding critical information.
In a letter, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “We call on you to immediately provide a thorough and complete description of what, if any, contact tracing regimen has been instituted to prevent further spread of the virus, and detailed information about the progress of that effort, if it exists.”
He continued, “We also call on you to provide complete transparency regarding the timeline of the outbreak and guidance to any and all individuals working within the White House complex.”
Additionally, Schumer called on Senate Republicans to “put in place additional protections to safeguard the health of the Senate complex workers, Senate staff, and Senators.”
However, McConnell defended the existing safety protocols in the Senate, “You’ve heard about other places that have had a different view, and they are, you know, paying the price for it. But in the Senate … we practiced social distancing and wore a mask and are continuing to operate normally adapting to the post-coronavirus situation.”
McConnell is not the only Congressional leader who says they have avoided the White House. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “I wouldn’t go anywhere near the White House. It’s one of the most dangerous places in the country. Both in terms of the assault it makes on truth as well as health.”