US congressman Louie Gohmert – a Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask – has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple sources.
Gohmert was expected to fly to Texas on Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump and tested positive in a pre-screen at the White House. The eighth-term Republican told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he was being tested regularly for the coronavirus.
"[I]f I get it,” he told CNN in June, “you'll never see me without a mask.”
Congressmen Mario Diaz Balart, Neal Dunn, Morgan Griffith, Mike Kelly, Ben McAdams and Tom Rice have tested positive for the virus, along with Senator Rand Paul.
In May, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned down the administration's offer of rapid testing for the Capitol. Some lawmakers – mostly Republicans – decline to use face coverings while in the building.
Gohmert attended Tuesday's blockbuster House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr in person, where lawmakers were seated at some distance from one another.
But footage from before the hearing shows Gohmert and Barr walking together in close contact, with neither wearing a mask. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr will be tested for coronavirus on Wednesday.
At one point in Tuesday's hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler chastised several Republicans for taking off their masks, though Gohmert was not among those he scolded.
“I would remind Mr Jordan, Mr Biggs and Mr Johnson to stop violating the rules of the committee,” Nadler said, referring to Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, Arizona congressman Andy Biggs and Louisiana congressman Mike Johnson, three Republican lawmakers.
“To stop violating the safety of the members of the committee. To stop holding themselves out as not caring by refusing to wear their masks.”
“Is it permissible to drink a sip of coffee?” one of the members asked.
“It is not permissible,” replied Nadler.
In a tweet, Nadler wrote, “I want to wish @replouiegohmert a full & speedy recovery. When individuals refuse to take the necessary precautions it puts everyone at risk. I’ve regularly instructed all Members to wear their masks and hope this is a lesson by all my colleagues.”
Connie Hair, Gohmert's chief of staff, declined to comment. But after this article was published, Gohmert told his aides in person that he had been infected.
Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority.