WASHINGTON, DC – As the country and the world battle the pandemic with lockdowns and business closures costing people their livelihoods, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), who tested positive for COVID-19 just six days prior, traveled to Washington DC to vote on the floor of the House for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.
Rep. Moore announced she had tested positive for the virus on December 28. On December 30, she tweeted condolences to the family of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died from the virus.
Then, just six days after her positive test, she announced that her quarantine was over on January 3 and that she had been cleared for travel.
A tragic loss. I send my deepest condolences to the family of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow. https://t.co/JRXAMk3SCo
— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) December 30, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines provide two acceptable quarantine periods. Officials said quarantine should continue for 10 days with a positive COVID-19 test if the person has no symptoms, or seven days of a person is exposed, has a negative test, and reports no symptoms.
The CDC stressed that the 14-day quarantine period remains the best way to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Moore announced her positive test on Twitter:
“I tested positive for COVID-19. I am following guidance from my doctor and am isolating from others. I am thankful to be feeling well. And I do not foresee this disrupting my work for Wisconsin’s Fourth.”
I tested positive for COVID-19. I am following guidance from my doctor and am isolating from others. I am thankful to be feeling well. And I do not foresee this disrupting my work for Wisconsin’s Fourth.
— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) December 28, 2020
She continued her tweet by saying everyone should take steps to prevent the spread of the virus:
“I encourage every person to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing.”
I encourage every person to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing.
— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) December 28, 2020
Six days later, she announced she had ended quarantine on Twitter, Moore said:
“Thank you all for the well wishes. I am feeling good! My quarantine is over, and I am medically cleared to travel and work on behalf of Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District.”
Thank you all for the well wishes. I am feeling good! My quarantine is over and I am medically cleared to travel and work on behalf of Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District.
— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) January 3, 2021
Speaker Pelosi needed every vote she could muster to remain Speaker of the House. The vote on Sunday came as several Democratic members defected after the House suffered lost seats in the November elections.
Proxy and remote voting were not permitted to vote for the Speaker because of timing issues. The 116th Congress ended Saturday, and the 117th Congress was sworn in on Sunday. Rules that allowed absent members to vote by proxy or remotely during the last session expired and new rules were not enacted until Monday.
With the smallest majority in decades, Pelosi faced a challenge from unified Republicans pushing for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Pelosi won a narrow victory, receiving 216 votes against McCarthy’s 209 votes. One of Pelosi’s votes came from Moore.
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Pelosi won her fourth non-consecutive term as Speaker. She has been the Democratic leader in the house for 17 years. She served as Speaker from 2006-2011, and since the Democrats took back control of the House in 2018. She is the first female to serve as Speaker of the House.
At the time of her diagnosis, Moore was in Milwaukee. She said she was quarantined at home and had mild symptoms. During an interview with WISN 12 News while in quarantine, Moore said she was aware of how contagious the virus was:
“After months and months and months of just diligently trying to avoid the virus, I just want to remind people that it’s extremely contagious.”
Moore returned to the Capitol to vote for Pelosi despite not having a negative COVID-19 test prior to the trip. Moore said she was cleared by the Capitol’s attending physician, Brian Monahan, to attend.
Although enclosures were built in the visitor’s gallery of the House to allow three members who were exposed to the virus but had not tested positive to vote, Moore did not use the enclosures herself. She sat in the front row of the Capital to cast her vote.
Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller said that Moore bumped elbows with Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) on the chamber floor:
“Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), who tested positive for coronavirus on Dec. 28th, just voted from the House floor and gave Jim Langevin an elbow bump.”
Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), who tested positive for coronavirus on Dec. 28th, just voted from the House floor and gave Jim Langevin an elbow bump.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 3, 2021
House Republicans attacked the decision to allow Moore to appear in the chamber to vote just six days after testing positive. Republicans placed the blame on Nancy Pelosi. Leader McCarthy reacted when hearing Moore was scheduled to attend:
“Well, that would be wrong. I mean, we (Republicans) have two members who have COVID and we kept them home. I couldn’t imagine that she (Pelosi) would bring somebody in here that could cause people problems.”
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) tweeted:
“Looks like @SpeakerPelosi’s proxy voting and remote hearing measures are only essential when her leadership position isn’t on the line.”
— Rep. Bruce Westerman (@RepWesterman) January 3, 2021
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) tweeted that he was concerned about public health because of Moore’s decision:
“Pelosi is putting the public’s health at risk to keep herself in power,” tweeted conservative Rep. Ken Buck.”
Pelosi is putting the public’s health at risk to keep herself in power. https://t.co/c3tb8MZE3Q
— Congressman Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) January 3, 2021
The Democrat-controlled house had set up restrictions as precautions during Sunday’s vote, such as limiting the number of members permitted on the floor at one time. However, those rules were not followed.
Fox News reporter Chad Pergram said, “hundreds of members have been hovering around the chamber on the floor, blowing out coronavirus protocols.” He pointed out that House members have not received their second vaccine dose, and new members have not received any vaccine.
Hse was supposed to limit mbrs coming into the chamber in grps. But hundreds of mbrs have been hovering around the chamber on the flr, blowing out coronavirus protocols. Remember, mbrs have not yet gotten 2nd shot. New mbrs haven’t yet gotten any vaccine
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 3, 2021
Moore’s travel and vote came as President-elect Joe Biden warned the nation that the darkest days of the pandemic are still to come:
“One thing I promise you about my leadership during this crisis: I’m going to tell it to you straight. I’m going to tell you the truth. And here’s the simple truth: Our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis