Rand Paul coronavirus

Sen. Rand Paul Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

Paul became the first senator to announce he has COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the spreading coronavirus.

According to the statement, Paul has no symptoms and was tested out of “abundance of caution” given his recent travels.

Other U.S. senators self-quarantined as a precaution in recent weeks, and at least two members of the House of Representatives have also tested positive.

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The Senate was preparing to take up a massive economic relief bill in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The bill, Congress’s third effort to blunt the economic hit, envisages financial aid for average Americans, small businesses and critically affected industries including airlines.

Among the areas likely to generate controversy are those aimed at helping corporations, rather than workers, weather the crisis, as well as provisions on whether to allow companies to buy back their own stock.

The virus has killed at least 380 and sickened more than 25,000 across the United States, leading governors and mayors to shut schools, businesses and many aspects of American life.

Over the past week President Donald Trump’s administration has been pushing for aggressive steps to stem the economic hit, after Trump spent several weeks downplaying the virus’ risks. Prominent Democrats on Sunday pushed back on the idea of propping up corporate America with the bill.

Earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted the White House and Congress would reach an agreement and Republican Senator Pat Toomey suggested there would be little opposition.

“I think it’ll be very hard to vote against this,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

During a press conference Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expected a Senate vote on Monday.

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McConnell, like Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, suggested the differences were just part of the usual jockeying in Congress.

“It’s still some elbowing and maneuvering for room as you can imagine, but this is a pretty solidly bi-partisan proposal agreed to by a lot of rank and file Democrats who were involved in drafting it,” McConnell told reporters. “At some point here, we’ll have to stop and that’ll be the bill we vote on and in my opinion that’ll be tomorrow.”

“We’re working toward bringing this together. I think it’s safe to say we’re very close,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a news conference after an hour of talks with top lawmakers, saying he expected a Senate vote on Monday.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

Cover image: Sen. Rand Paul. (C-Span)

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