For the first time in more than 27 years, a roll call vote took place on the floor of the U.S. Senate and one wasn’t registered for the senior senator from Iowa.
On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, was under quarantine due to the notification that morning that he was exposed to COVID-19. He immediately took a test for the novel coronavirus, and learned later that afternoon that he tested positive.
“I am continuing to follow my doctors’ orders and CDC guidelines,” Grassley said in a statement released after the diagnosis. “I’ll be keeping up on my work for the people of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes and prayers, and look forward to resuming my normal schedule when I can.
“In the meantime, my offices across Iowa and in Washington remain open and ready to serve Iowans.”
Between the announcement of the exposure and the positive test result, Grassley’s current string of nearly 9,000 votes in the upper chamber was broken. His last missed vote was in July 1993, when he was in Iowa with then-President Bill Clinton to tour flood damages across the state.
“I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to vote (Tuesday) in the Senate, but the health of others is more important than any record,” Grassley said in a statement about his missed vote. “My voting streak reflects how seriously I take my commitment to represent Iowans. Choosing not to potentially expose others to this deadly virus is obviously the right and responsible thing to do.”
The halting of the 8,927-vote streak was noteworthy for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as he made a floor speech marking the occasion. He said that Grassley not taking a vote on a Senate procedure or bill is so rare, “only a few of us current senators had ever seen it before.”
The run of votes is a Senate record, which Grassley set in January of 2016. He passed the late Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., who served from 1957-1989.
“This show of diligence and dedication is remarkable by any measure,” McConnel said. “But because of who Senator Grassley is, it hasn’t seemed remarkable at all. That incredible commitment to serving Iowans and working around the clock is just who our colleague is. That devotion is just his daily routine.
“This is the senator who manages to visit all 99 counties in Iowa every year. Nearly 9,000 consecutive Senate votes must have seemed a cakewalk by comparison.
“But yesterday, our colleague’s streak had to be temporarily placed on hold. On the advice of doctors, after close contact with someone who had later tested positive for the coronavirus, Senator Grassley began self-quarantining yesterday morning.”