Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majorty Leader Mitch McConnell shake hands in Washington in March. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday declined the Trump administration's offer to provide additional coronavirus tests to Congress.

Driving the news: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tweeted late Friday that the agency would send three Abbott point of care machines and 1,000 coronavirus tests for the Senate's use, after the Capitol's attending physician said he did not have enough equipment for widespread testing of all senators.

What they're saying: “Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time.  Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide, and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly."

  • “Consistent with CDC guidelines, Congress will use the current testing protocols that the Office of the Attending Physician has put in place until these speedier technologies become more widely available," Pelosi and McConnell said in a joint statement on Saturday.

Go deeper: Capitol physician says he doesn't have enough tests for all senators

Go deeper

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Why it matters: The system is overwhelmed by the demand for tests, and yet prolific testing is key to identifying asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic coronavirus cases. Experts say the solution is smarter testing — which doesn't require perfect accuracy.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar praised Taiwan during a visit Monday for being a "vital partner, a democratic success story, and a force for good in the world."

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