Four Republicans from Senate Judiciary Committee infected or quarantined
The coronavirus threatens to disrupt the Republican timetable for confirming Judge Amy Connie Barrett to the Supreme Court. They want to complete the process before November 3, but the plan seems less and less realistic given that three senators, including two Republicans from the Legal Committee, have contracted coronavirus in recent days..
Two more committee members, Republicans Ted Cruz and Ben Sass, are in quarantine due to contact with patients. The outbreak, which has affected the president and many members of the administration, is speculated to be linked to an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on September 26, when Trump announced Barrett’s candidacy..
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Saturday a reschedule of Senate meetings in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus on Capitol Hill. The Upper House of Congress won’t hold any meetings until Monday, October 19, but Republicans still hope to begin confirmation hearings for Barrett on October 12..
“The Senate meeting scheduling will not affect a thorough, fair and historically highly supported approval process,” McConnell said. “Since May, the Legal Committee has been doing great in mixed mode, with some senators in person at hearings and other members virtually participating.”.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Committee has held 21 hearings in this mode.
However, in the situation with the approval, Barrett McConnell cannot lose a single vote due to illness or quarantine, since Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Merkauski have already announced that they will not vote to approve a new judge before the election. However, the sick or quarantined senators have promised to return to Washington before the end of the recommended 14-day quarantine period..
In an interview Saturday with conservative host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell called coronavirus the “main enemy” of Barrett’s pre-election vote.
“Every precaution needs to be taken as we generally do not expect any support from the Democratic Party, either in the Committee or in the full Senate, and therefore need to have everyone assembled,” McConnell said..
Illness reports by three Republican senators have rekindled discussions on security protocols at the Capitol. While Republican lawmakers have held their in-person caucuses since the pandemic began, Democrats continue to meet virtually.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that the plan to continue the approval process demonstrates how irresponsible Republicans are about security protocols..
“The Republican leadership has truly lost touch with reality if it is considering sending sick legislators to the Senate to push their candidate to the Supreme Court, who could deprive 20 million Americans of medical care. Instead of behaving more and more absurd and dangerous, Chairman Graham must stop this already illegal process, ”- said in a statement..
Democrats from the Legal Committee also challenged the plan for a virtual approval process. On Saturday, they sent a letter to Chairman Lindsay Graham, stating, “Holding a remote hearing on a Supreme Court nomination is not an adequate substitute. As Republicans on this committee have acknowledged, video-link interviews with candidates are ineffective and fall short of the seriousness of our constitutional duty to recommend and approve life appointments, especially to the country’s highest court. “.
Democrats may try to block Barrett’s approval in procedural maneuvers in the Senate after the Judiciary Committee votes to nominate her. At the moment, a vote in the Committee is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd. According to the original Republican plan, the full Senate vote can be held after October 26.
The Senate and House of Representatives have responded differently to the pandemic. The House of Representatives adopted unprecedented proxy voting rules and switched to virtual committee hearings. After the April break, the Senate returned to full-time work. Both McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected a White House proposal for testing. As of today, there is no COVID-19 testing or tracking mode on Capitol Hill.
WATCH: Sen. Kamala Harris questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
Pelosi ordered members of the House of Representatives to wear masks at the end of July when Congressman Louis Homert, who refused to wear a mask, became infected.
According to GovTrack, 72 members of Congress have become infected, have been quarantined, or have been in contact with those who are ill..
American lawmakers fly to Washington from all over the country, work three to four days a week on Capitol Hill, and then return to their counties. This situation creates ideal conditions for the spread of the virus..
“More than 400-500 members of Congress travel regularly from all over the country to Washington and back. Each of our meetings can become a huge hotbed of proliferation. It is totally unacceptable that we do not have a protocol for regular temperature measurement, testing or contact tracing, “Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted..
House of Representatives is not meeting in October to allow lawmakers to campaign in their constituencies.
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