Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday announced he would send the chamber home for a two-week break after three Republican senators tested positive for the coronavirus.
But the move, described as an effort to protect the health and safety of lawmakers, will not derail the Judicial Committee’s plan to hold hearings on Supreme Court candidate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
This comes as it becomes increasingly likely that a White House rally to celebrate President Trump’s appointment of Barrett last Saturday could have been a ‘super broadcaster’ event where a host of powerful Republicans could have been. exposed to the deadly virus.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would return home for a two-week recess and meet in “pro forma” session, after three GOP senators tested positive for coronavirus
McConnell puts the chamber in “pro forma” session – which would still allow committees to meet remotely.
“According to the standing rules of the US Senate, committees can meet whether the Senate is in session or not,” the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement on Saturday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), will review the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the post of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on 12 October 2020 ”.
McConnell’s ploy, intended to protect the body and its aging limbs from the spread of the virus, comes as Democrats, already furious at the decision to push the candidate through just weeks before election day, demanded a delay after the news broke that the president and senators tested positive for the virus.
“The decision to suspend the Senate for two weeks after at least three Republican senators test positive for COVID-19 clearly shows that the Senate cannot continue as usual as the virus continues to plague itself,” said the leader of the minority, Senator Charles Schumer. in a breathtaking statement.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) Announced on Saturday that he had tested positive for coronavirus
Mike Lee on Saturday as Amy Coney Barrett was unveiled at the White House
Amy Coney Barrett is pictured during her nomination hearing in the Rose Garden on Saturday
Lee met Supreme Court candidate Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday
“Their decision to go ‘full steam ahead’ with a Supreme Court candidate who could take away health care from 20 million Americans a month before Election Day turns an illegitimate process into a reckless and dangerous one,” did he declare.
Two GOP senators who are members of the bench – Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Mike Lee of Utah – tested positive after attending the White House event for Barrett.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who was also there, announced on Saturday that he had tested positive.
The majority of the GOP is 53 to 47, so potential absences could limit the ability of the majority to displace candidates or legislation. Two Republicans, the senses. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have voiced their opposition to considering the nomination before the election.
“The Committee has used this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all parties involved. It is certain that all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings, ”said McConnell.
“On Monday, I intend to get a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions for the next two weeks. The previously scheduled floor activity will be postponed after October 19.
“The important work of Senate committees can and will continue as each committee sees fit. The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet on October 12 as President Graham is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, ”he said.
“The Senate sitting schedule will not disrupt the thorough, fair and historically sustained confirmation process previously presented by President Graham,” said McConnell.
He referred to virtual hearings and wrote, “The committee has used this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all parties involved. It is certain that all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.
With Lee and Tillis potentially sidelined, this could hamper the panel’s ability to achieve a quorum or flag a candidate.
Republicans hold a 12-10 majority on the 22-seat committee.
On Friday night, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called for the Senate to change course.
“We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more,” he tweeted. “I wish my colleagues good luck. It is irresponsible and dangerous to conduct a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so.
The average age of a senator is almost 63, which means most are considered to be in a high risk category.
Judicial Senator Charles Grassley is 87, as is the leading Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
If Democrats boycott a live committee meeting, they could prevent the panel from obtaining a quorum to report a nomination. Even so, there are rules mechanisms that would allow McConnell to send the candidacy directly to the prosecution – even if that would be an extraordinary decision for a person appointed for life.