Democratic Rep. Schneider tests positive for COVID-19, slams GOP colleagues who refused to wear masks during Capitol attack
Schneider is the third House member to test positive for COVID after being confined during the Capitol attack last week in a safe room with maskless lawmakers.
WASHINGTON — After Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., announced Tuesday he tested positive for COVID-19 - becoming the third lawmaker possibly exposed after being in a safe room with Republicans who refused to wear masks during the Capitol siege — new House rules were imposed cracking down on unmasked members.
Schneider, who said he was asymptomatic, spoke to reporters from his Deerfield basement, where, for the time being, he is in “strict isolation” worried about the health of his wife, Julie.
He told reporters during a Zoom press conference he was “angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers, who put their own contempt and disregard of decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff.”
Before his diagnosis, Schneider was so cautious that, to avoid crowds at an airport and on a plane, he has been driving to Washington from his north suburban home.
Schneider is not totally sure how he got infected. He does make “pit stops” on his marathon drives, but overall is careful. He received a COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 4, but it takes some time to achieve immunity plus a second dose.
What Schneider does know is that on Jan. 6 he spent about five hours in a safe room with members, all Republicans, who refused to wear a mask.
It may end up being a spreader event; two other members in the room with him also tested positive for the coronavirus, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington.
Schneider was among the House members — including Illinois Democratic Reps. Robin Kelly and Mike Quigley — trapped in the House chamber gallery as insurgents were trying to break down the doors. The members — in the dozens, maybe more — were forced to stay in their secure location in a House office building as the attack unfolded.
Now Schneider, 59, is in solitary until around Jan. 25, comfortable enough in a basement with a foosball table, a stationary bike and his record albums.
As I write this, there seems almost no chance President Donald Trump will resign. And Vice President Mike Pence will not go along with invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.
So the House will vote to impeach on Wednesday, with Democrats getting some Republican support; one being Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
Schneider plans to vote by proxy Wednesday to impeach Trump for the second time.
There is a connection, of course, between the impeachment vote — certain to pass — and the pro-Trump mob of insurgents who invaded the Capitol, resulting in five dead in their failed coup to deny Joe Biden the presidency.
Trump’s second impeachment, to come a week before leaving office Jan. 20, is because he incited the mob of domestic terrorists, few who were seen wearing masks.
I get that some people don’t believe masks prevent anything. I get that some people think their personal liberty is infringed upon if they have to wear a mask. What is difficult to see is how, on one extraordinary day, the anti-maskers couldn’t even be nice — put their colleagues at ease — by strapping on a mask.
You can see the disdain in the video posted by Punchbowl News when the anti-masker members turned down masks.
Schneider had a rapid test Saturday that was negative. The House attending physician told members to get a PCR test — that’s polymerase chain reaction — and Schneider did Monday. That test came back positive.
House members have no bosses, though their conduct can be controlled by House rules.
And a new set of rules was expected to be approved Tuesday. The House sergeant at arms will ban members not wearing a mask from the House floor. If members takes off a mask once in the chamber, they will be booted. There will be a $500 fine for the first offense and $2,500 for the second, deducted from paychecks.
Schneider represents the 10th Congressional District, sweeping in northern suburbs bordering Lake Michigan and then stretching west in Cook and Lake Counties.
Schneider said in the House, “People puff up their chests and say, ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’”
It shouldn’t require a rule.
Said Schneider, “This is again, common decency. I am concerned about the care and welfare of the people I work with, whether they be on my team, members of my office or my colleagues from Illinois or from any other state. And it shouldn’t be red or blue, north or south; it should simply be what we have to do to keep each other safe.”