Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Senate to postpone the confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, deeming it both “irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing” following the news of two members of the Judiciary Committee, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well,” Schumer said Friday night.
“It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so,” he added:
We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well.
It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 3, 2020
His demand drew praise from far-left lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who thanked him for his call:
Thank you, @SenSchumer.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 3, 2020
On Friday, both Lee and Tillis announced they tested positive for the virus. Lee expressed confidence that he will be ready to participate in the October 12 hearing, stating he is “very much looking forward to speaking” with Barrett during the hearing.
“Talked to Senator Lee earlier today and wished him a speedy recovery. Look forward to welcoming him back to the @senjudiciary to proceed with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barret on October 12,” Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham tweeted following Lee’s statement:
Talked to Senator Lee earlier today and wished him a speedy recovery.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 2, 2020
In a statement on Friday, Tillis said he is experiencing no symptoms and added that he will self-isolate for ten days.
“Thankfully, I have no symptoms and I feel well. As we all know, COVID-19 is a very contagious and deadly virus, especially because many carriers are asymptomatic,” he added.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, has also announced he has contracted the coronavirus.
Even before the recent news of President Trump, first lady Melania, and key senators testing positive, Democrats blasted the GOP’s plans to charge forward with Barrett’s hearing prior to the presidential election. But now, they are shifting their primary focus to the onslaught of coronavirus infections among key government officials, citing it as a prime reason to delay the confirmation hearing, which Graham has shown no signs of doing.
“It is premature for Chairman Graham to commit to a hearing schedule when we do not know the full extent of potential exposure stemming from the president’s infection and before the White House puts in place a contact tracing plan to prevent further spread of the disease,” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a joint statement with the minority leader.
“It’s critical that Chairman Graham put the health of senators, the nominee and staff first – and ensure a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual,” the Democrats continued.
“Otherwise this already illegitimate process will become a dangerous one,” they added.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that the Senate is going “full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve”:
Just finished a great phone call with @POTUS. He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 2, 2020