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The First Member of Congress Has Tested Positive For the Wuhan Flu

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Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart has tested positive for the Wuhan flu, according to a statement he released on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The Republican is the first congressman to test positive for the disease.

Diaz-Balart claimed that he began feeling the symptoms of the virus on Saturday which included “a fever and headache,” according to the statement his office published. He was informed that he had tested positive for the Wuhan virus on Wednesday.

“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” the elected official said in the statement. “However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”

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The House is currently in recess with members going back to their districts, while the Senate has continued working despite the national recommendation that people not congregate in groups of more than 10 people.  The House will return soon, however, as both chambers of government work on legislation to tackle the Wuhan virus.

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Although Diaz-Balart is the first member of Congress to be infected with the virus, a few others have self-quarantined a few days after contacting someone who has tested positive. This includes Senator Ted Cruz and Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins, who all pursued similar action after interacting with a person last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference who was diagnosed with the virus. Furthermore, Gaetz and Collins met with President Donald Trump after the conference.

Cruz prolonged his initial self-quarantine after he discovered that he had met with a second person who caught the virus. He ended his quarantine on Tuesday.

It should be noted that Diaz-Balart is not the first major Florida politician to test positive for the virus. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said last week that he had caught the Wuhan flu after meeting with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

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Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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