Lindsey Graham says Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation schedule to proceed as planned on Oct. 12
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Saturday the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett will go forward as planned despite the president, first lady, numerous senators and White House staffers testing positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
“According to the standing rules of the U.S. Senate, committees may convene regardless of whether or not the Senate is in session,” Graham said in a statement. “The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will proceed with the consideration of the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States on Oct. 12, 2020.”
The decision comes after President Trump announced Friday he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was later admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for precautionary care.
First lady Melania Trump also tested positive for the virus and is quarantined at the White House.
Several White House staffers and aides, who attended a formal nomination ceremony for Barrett last weekend hosted by the president at the White House Rose Garden, have tested positive as well.
Those included former White House counsel Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who are both under self-quarantine as well as Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins.
More than 100 attendees were not seated to adhere to social distancing measures and most were not wearing a mask despite the close proximity.
Republican Sens.Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, who were also in attendance and serve on the House Judiciary Committee in charge of overseeing Barrett’s confirmation hearings, also tested positive for the virus.
Barrett herself, who last saw the president on the day of her nomination, has tested negative for coronavirus but is tested daily, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement on Friday.
After a third aenator, Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also tested positive for the virus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., decided to recess the entire chamber for two weeks, a decision that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says “makes clear that the Senate cannot proceed with business as usual as the virus continues to run rampant.”
“If It’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session it is also too dangerous for committee hearings to continue. Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham’s monomaniacal drive to confirm Judge Barrett at all costs needlessly threatens the health and safety of senators, staff and all those who work in the Capitol complex,” he said.
Schumer, along with other members of his party, has also said that holding remote or virtual hearings for the Supreme Court nominee is not acceptable.
Democrats have tried to stall Barrett’s nomination long before the most recent coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill and at the White House, resisting the president’s plan to have her confirmed before the Nov. 3 election. Instead, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, as well as many in his party, have insisted that a new justice should be confirmed after the results of the election are heard.
Other members of Trump’s inner circle, including his aide Hope Hicks and campaign manager Bill Stepien both, have tested positive for coronavirus as well this past week.