Virus Outbreak Congress

In this file photo from June 2, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arrives for a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the FDA foreign drug manufacturing inspection process on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa's 87-year-old Republican Senator, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The news of the positive test followed Grassley's announcement on Tuesday that he was quarantining after a possible exposure. The news meant he missed his first vote from the Senate floor in more than 27 years.

A statement from the seven-term senator's office said he is still feeling fine and is at his home in Iowa.

"I appreciate everyone's well wishes and prayers, and look forward to resuming my normal schedule when I can," Grassley said in a statement."

The U.S. Senate does not allow for voting virtually or by proxy on the Senate floor, only in committees, meaning Grassley can't vote on matters before the Senate floor while he is in isolation.

The last time Grassley missed a vote was in July 1993, when he toured Iowa floods with President Bill Clinton. His vote streak began on July 20, 1993, and is the longest streak in the history of the Senate in terms of numbers of days.

The late William Proxmire, who was a longtime senator from Wisconsin, held the previous record from 1966 to 1988.

Proxmire still holds the record for the number of consecutive votes cast at 10,252. Grassley's streak included 8,927 consecutive votes, according to his office.

"My voting streak reflects how seriously I take my commitment to represent Iowans," Grassley said in a statement. "Choosing not to potentially expose others to this deadly virus is obviously the right and responsible thing to do."

The streak ended Tuesday morning, as the Senate voted to confirm Kristi Haskins Johnson as U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, 53-43. Grassley was one of four senators not voting, the others being Republicans Lamar Alexander and Rick Scott and Democrat Kamala Harris. Scott was also under a COVID-19 quarantine, Alexander was out of town for "family matters."

Harris, the vice president-elect, was not present for the vote but late made it to the Senate floor for a contentious vote on Judy Shelton for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Shelton's nomination was defeated 47-50, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell switched his vote to oppose her nomination, which allows him the ability to bring her nomination back to the floor for another vote. Three Republican Senators joined Democrats in opposition of her nomination.

Grassley, as president pro tempore of the Senate, is third in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Grassley has served in the Senate since 1980. He currently chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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