Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is participating in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings in person — as are other key Democrats — despite Judiciary Democrats warning of the dangers of holding in-person hearings due to the Chinese coronavirus.
Feinstein, 87, delivered her opening statement Monday morning in person — a move that stood in stark contrast to the widespread narrative touted by key members of her party, some of whom have warned that it is simply too dangerous to hold hearings in person in the era of the novel coronavirus, particularly after some members — such as Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) — recently tested positive for the virus:
Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein chat before the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court hearings begin. pic.twitter.com/OKltFZcHiL
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 12, 2020
In her opening statement, Dianne Feinstein focuses on health care and Amy Coney Barrett's potential opposition to the Affordable Care Act: "This well could mean that if Judge Barrett is confirmed, Americans stand to lose the benefits that the ACA provides" https://t.co/uScvfX9o80 pic.twitter.com/eGO5bOGWwd
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 12, 2020
Feinstein was not the only high-profile Democrat to attend the hearing in person. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the 75-year-old Democratic Whip, also showed up to the hearing in person, as did Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is 32 years younger than Feinstein, has warned that Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Republicans are “endangering the lives of not just members and our staff, but the hardworking people who keep the Senate complex running”:
By moving forward with Supreme Court confirmation hearings tomorrow—less than 2 weeks after members tested positive—Chairman Graham and Senate Republicans are endangering the lives of not just members and our staff, but the hardworking people who keep the Senate complex running.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) October 11, 2020
Over the weekend, Harris’s spokesman said that she would be participating in the hearing virtually from her Senate office in the Hart building because of the “Judiciary Committee Republicans’ refusal to take commonsense steps to protect members, aides, Capitol complex workers, and members of the media.”
An interaction between Harris and Feinstein went viral last month after the vice presidential hopeful refused to hug the 87-year-old senator in the Capitol Rotunda.
“We can’t do that. I want you to live a long life,” Harris reportedly said. Both were wearing a mask at the time:
a candid sign of the times… Sen. Dianne Feinstein went to console fellow CA Sen Kamala Harris w/ a hug following Justice Ginsburg’s memorial service this morning
Harris says “we can’t do that. I want you to live a long life” pic.twitter.com/Lon6tdHoUF
— Kelly Phares (@kellyfphares) September 25, 2020
At the start of the hearing, Graham assured that the room was “CDC compliant.”
“As to the hearing room, I doubt if there’s any room in the country that’s been given more attention and detail to make sure it’s CDC compliant,” he said.
The architect of the Capitol working with the attending physician has set up the room in a fashion that we can safely do our business,” he added:
Sen. Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opens the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearing.
"As to the hearing room, I doubt if there's any room in the country that's been given more attention & detail to make sure it's CDC compliant."
Sen. Mike Lee is in the room, btw. pic.twitter.com/RmkkU88mEy
— The Recount (@therecount) October 12, 2020
The mass in-person participation follows a letter from Judiciary Senate Democrats, including Feinstein, who warned that proceeding with the hearing “threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body.”
“Republican members of this Committee have recognized, questioning nominees by video is ineffective and ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court,” Democrats stated.
In the October 3 letter, Democrats emphasized that a remote hearing did not serve as an “adequate substitute.” Despite signing the letter, Democrat Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Harris delivered their opening remarks virtually.
Lee, who tested positive for the virus over a week ago, also attended the hearing in person, drawing ire from critics on social media. Lee, however, said the Office of the Attending Physician cleared him beforehand.