(The Hill) – Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) disclosed Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, becoming the latest member of Congress to contract a breakthrough case of the virus amid the current nationwide surge in cases due to the omicron variant.
McCaul confirmed that he is fully vaccinated and boosted and is “recovering each day.” In the meantime, McCaul said he will cast votes by proxy next week “for my health and the safety of others,” in accordance with public health guidelines to prevent further spread of the virus.
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“I tested positive for COVID-19 this week and as a result will be voting by proxy next week for my health and the safety of others. I am fully vaccinated and boosted. Thankfully, I am recovering each day. I look forward to returning back to work for the people of TX-10,” McCaul wrote in a tweet.
A total of at least 37 members of Congress — 29 in the House and 8 in the Senate — have contracted breakthrough cases of COVID-19 since the summer, meaning they were vaccinated but still became infected with the virus. Those lawmakers have generally reported only feeling mild symptoms.
Nearly half of the breakthrough cases among lawmakers have been since December, when the virus surge attributed to the omicron variant began.
The House has not held floor votes since Dec. 14 and is not scheduled to return from its holiday recess until Monday.
Some Democrats — and just three Republicans — were on Capitol Hill on Thursday to mark one year since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Trump‘s supporters who tried to stop Congress from certifying the election results. But the House has not been formally in session for in-person votes and committee work in weeks.
Even with both the House and Senate mostly out of session in the last few weeks, the Capitol physician said Monday that the positivity rate in the on-campus COVID-19 testing site has skyrocketed from less than 1 percent to 13 percent.
The Capitol physician, Brian Monahan, advised congressional offices to adopt telework as much as possible and for everyone to wear higher-quality masks like KN95s or N95s.
Two other lawmakers revealed earlier this week that they also tested positive for COVID-19: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.).
Hagedorn, who is battling kidney cancer, said he was “experiencing very mild symptoms” but was hospitalized as a precaution due to his cancer treatment.
House Democrats first instituted proxy voting in May 2020 so that lawmakers could still cast votes if they were sick, had to quarantine or otherwise could not travel due to COVID-19.
Republicans initially almost uniformly voted against establishing proxy voting as a measure to adapt to the pandemic, including McCaul. But many Republicans have since embraced proxy voting over the last year and a half, including some members of House GOP leadership.
Nevertheless, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has vowed to eliminate proxy voting if Republicans take over the House majority next year.
“I have spent a lot of time thinking about the next Congress. How do we heal this place? If you are all thinking of running again, for those who win, no more proxy voting. You are going to have to show up to work,” McCarthy said in November during his record-long House floor speech where he spoke for more than 8 1/2 hours.