Lindsey Graham has COVID -- and was around other senators while he had it

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Isn’t there an important vote coming up in the Senate this week?

One that’s expected to be close, and whose outcome might be determined by whether all members are present or not?

Chuck Schumer had better check his calendar. Infrastructure is on COVID’s timetable now, not Democrats’.

Glad to hear he’s doing well. He was vaccinated all the way back in December 2020, within a week or so of Pfizer’s vaccine being made available to health-care workers, nursing-home residents, and our political ruling class. That might be relevant since Graham is 66 and his immunity may have waned a bit over the past seven months. Not enough to endanger his life, thankfully, but possibly enough to have made him more susceptible to infection by Delta.

Consider his announcement today another data point for why boosters for seniors wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Was he around any Senate colleagues while he was infected and infectious, you might wonder? The answer is almost certainly yes. He started having symptoms on Saturday night and symptoms typically don’t show up until a few days after someone’s caught the virus. (That’s how it was with the original SARS-CoV-2, anyway. Maybe Delta moves more quickly.) It turns out that just hours before he realized something was amiss, he was at Joe Manchin’s home. And he and Manchin weren’t the only senators present.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin entertained a small group of senators on his houseboat over the weekend — and Graham was in attendance, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Manchin’s office declined to comment on the attendance on his boat.

“Sen. Manchin is fully vaccinated and following the CDC guidelines for those exposed to a COVID-positive individual,” Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon told CNN in a statement.

Democrat Jacky Rosen was there too, as was Dem Mark Kelly.

Graham “was in the Senate as recently as Friday and attended party lunches and other meetings and was seen in hallways not wearing a mask,” notes WaPo. There’s no mask mandate in effect in the Senate right now due to the high rate of vaccination there, which … doesn’t make a ton of sense to me considering the CDC just announced that vaccinated people can infect others. Senators can and do voluntarily mask sometimes, of course, but “since the CDC updated its guidance last week, most Republican senators and their staff haven’t been wearing masks in the hallways or on the floor,” according to the WSJ. I assume that was partly a political gesture, a show of defiance towards what many consider to be overcautious new guidance at the expense of the vaccinated.

If Delta was circulating in the Senate last week, how many more breakthrough cases might we reasonably expect? Manchin, Rosen, and Kelly? More?

Is Schumer willing to use proxy voting to pass legislation as momentous as the bipartisan roads-and-bridges infrastructure bill?

Work on the reconciliation package is also set to begin soon. Will Graham insist that it be delayed while he recuperates? He’s not just any ol’ senator on budgetary matters:

Democrats have bigger problems at the moment on infrastructure than temporary Senate absentees. House progressives spent the past week warning Pelosi and anyone else who’ll listen that they’ll tank the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they get a reconciliation bill with it. The reconciliation bill, jam-packed with liberal social-welfare spending, is the one they care about. The centrists don’t get the roads-and-bridges stuff unless the left gets the stuff it wants too. But two can play at that game: Several centrist Democrats have lately warned Pelosi that if she doesn’t promise to hold a vote on the bipartisan bill in the event that the left ultimately doesn’t get what it wants on reconciliation, they might not vote to proceed on the budget resolution needed for the reconciliation process.

Catch-22. Either Pelosi sides with the left and alienates the centrists or she sides with the centrists and alienates the left. And given that she now has a three-vote margin in the House, she can’t afford to alienate either.

Rep. Ed Case said in an interview Friday that he wouldn’t be able to vote for the budget resolution without Pelosi also committing to holding a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Senate is planning to vote on both measures in the next week or two.

“I have many concerns with a proposed $3.5 trillion budget resolution,” the Hawaii Democrat said. “Those are separate concerns from the linkage to the infrastructure bill. But for the purposes that we’re talking about here, I do not support the speaker’s insistence that this bill would not pass without the budget resolution, so I hope she changes her mind because I can’t — I don’t support the direction that she has taken.”…

At least half a dozen Democrats have expressed reservations about voting for the budget resolution if Pelosi declines to bring up the bipartisan infrastructure bill after the Senate sends it to the House — although each with varying degrees of commitments. The strongest was a “hell no” from Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, who had already planned to vote against the budget resolution because he’s opposed to the level of spending.

Maybe there’s a way out. Pelosi could agree to hold a vote on the bipartisan bill no matter what while still insisting that she’ll wait until the reconciliation bill is ready so that the left can consider them together. If the AOC wing doesn’t like what it sees, then it can tank both bills in floor votes. If it dares.

I’ll leave you with this from our Townhall cousin Guy Benson, another vaccinated person suffering a breakthrough infection. His symptoms are mild enough that he was able to do his radio show today with COVID. As breakthrough cases continue to pop up, all I can think is how India-like this summer might have been for the U.S. if not for the widespread vaccine immunity the population spent the last six months building.

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