sen. Joe Manchin arrived in the Senate Monday with a bandage on his forehead — an accident on his boat, he told reporters, according to Politico Playbook.
Over the weekend, the West Virginia Democrat hosted a soiree at his houseboat, raising concerns that the Senate is on the cusp of an outbreak of a COVID-19 Delta variant after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tested positive for the virus on Monday.
All Monday, Manchin was peppered with questions about whether he accidentally hosted a super spreader event on “Almost Heaven.”
sen. Joe Manchin was spotted on Monday with a bandage on his forehead after an accident on his ‘Almost Heaven’ houseboat. Over the weekend, the West Virginia senator hosted Senator Lindsey Graham and other senators on the boat — then Graham tested positive for COVID-19
sen. Joe Manchin showed up Monday with a bandage on his forehead, an injury he said he sustained on his boat, according to Politico Playbook
He called the meeting “no party” and said it was with a “small group of senators.”
“We’re just trying to keep people together and do things in a two-pronged way. That’s what we do,’ Manchin told The Huffington Post.
Later, when Manchin walked outside the Capitol, he was asked how many people attended the event. The West Virginia senator replied “maybe, not quite” when asked if the attendance was a dozen.
He confirmed that they were all senators on board.
“If they want you to know who they are, they’ll tell you,” Manchin said.
“We were outside, okay? And everyone is vaccinated,” the West Virginia Democrat added.
sen. Lindsey Graham announced Monday afternoon that he tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms. Graham is captured without a mask on Friday while walking through the Capitol
He also said it took “what it takes to eat a burger or two.”
Manchin’s office initially did not comment on the boat party but instead said, “Senate Manchin is fully vaccinated and follows CDC guidelines for those exposed to a COVID-positive person.”
Then Senator Mark Kelly’s spokesman confirmed to CNN that the Arizona Democrat had come into contact with Graham at Manchin’s party.
‘Sen. Kelly came into contact with Senator Graham at a bipartisan meeting this weekend hosted by Senator Manchin,’ spokesperson Jacob Peters told CNN.
sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, was also in attendance, CNN said.
Punchbowl News reported that Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, was also there.
So are Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota.
The Thune’s and Coons offices said Monday night the senators tested negative.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that vaccinated individuals who have been in contact with COVID-positive individuals be tested three to five days after exposure.
They are also advised to wear a mask for 14 days after a possible exposure in public – or until a negative test comes back.
Vaccinated individuals who test positive must be quarantined for 10 days.
Graham said Monday he is experiencing only mild symptoms after receiving a positive test result that morning.
“I was just informed by the family doctor that I tested positive for COVID-19 even after being vaccinated,” Graham said in a statement.
sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Monday afternoon that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had flu-like symptoms
sen. Lindsey Graham said if he hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, ‘my symptoms would be much worse’
He said he got flu-like symptoms on Saturday night and went to the doctor Monday morning.
“I feel like I have sinusitis and at the moment I have mild symptoms,” he continued. “I’m going into quarantine for ten days.”
“I’m very happy to have been vaccinated, because without it I’m sure I wouldn’t feel as good as I do now. My symptoms would be much worse,” the Republican added.
Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic reported seeing Graham in the Capitol with a mask on earlier Monday.
Graham was captured Friday by reporters walking down Capitol Hill without a mask.
The Senate has stopped wearing masks as vaccination coverage among upper-room lawmakers is nearly universal.
The vaccination rate in the House of Representatives is lower.
A group of House Republicans last week protested the House’s resumption of mask-wearing by parading to the Senate side of the Capitol.
A number of Senate Democrats began wearing masks again as guidelines changed. Most Senate Republicans, however, remained masked.
Graham joins nearly 70 of his congressional colleagues in testing positive for the coronavirus — but this is the first breakthrough COVID infection in the Senate since most of the upper house received the vaccine.
Graham announced in December that he had received the vaccine and tweeted a photo of him receiving his first injection.
Thank God for nurses who help people in need and know how to use a needle. Thank God for those who produced these vaccines. If enough of us take it, we’ll live normal lives again,” Graham said at the time.
Graham and other Republican lawmakers who received early doses of the vaccine were criticized for downplaying the dangers of the virus.
Graham only mocked the wearing of masks on Thursday.
“To my liberal Democratic friends: If you’re looking for ‘Mask Up,’ how about ‘Mask Up’ the frontier?” Graham said he shared a Fox News story in which he quoted former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf as claiming that migrants crossing the southern border brought COVID-19 into the country.
During President Donald Trump’s tenure, Graham was one of his closest allies on Capitol Hill.
Trump helped to politicize mask-wearing and staged major political rallies for months leading up to the November 3 presidential election, despite no vaccines being available yet.
Former president and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 in early October and Trump was hospitalized briefly at Walter Reed for low oxygen levels.
With Graham on the sidelines, the bipartisan infrastructure deal would once again risk failing as every senator’s vote is needed and the votes are expected to take place this week, before the August recess.
Graham was one of 17 Republicans to join Democrats in a major vote last week to push the bipartisan infrastructure deal toward passage.
Punchbowl News asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer whether Graham’s diagnosis will derail the infrastructure vote timeline.
“I really hope not,” Schumer said. ‘I don’t think it will happen. And we try not to let it go.’
sen. Lindsey Graham shared a photo of him getting a COVID-19 shot in December 2020