Republicans leaders say that regardless of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter in the early morning hours of October 2 that he and The First Lady, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19, the planned judicial senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court will go forward, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported an aide to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Lindsay Graham, told them the hearings were still, “Full steam ahead.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, “I think we can move forward. Our biggest enemy, obviously, is … the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job,” according to Reuters. McConnell said the confirmation of Barrett is “front and center for the American people.”
Trump and his wife said they are quarantining at the White House and his doctor, Sean P. Conley, assured the public that the President will have the best medical care and said he and his team would “maintain a vigilant watch,” in a letter that came out of the White House Press Office.
Conley also said, “Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”
Senate Judiciary Hearings Are Set to Start on October 12 but It’s Unclear Who Else in the President’s Orbit May Have Been Exposed or Been Infected
As many in Trump’s orbit are now being tested to see if they, too, contracted COVID-19, the Senate Judiciary hearings to possibly confirm Barrett are scheduled to begin on October 12 and last for four days, according to Politico.
Barrett first met with the President on September 21. On September 26 they met again when he announced her as his pick to replace Ginsburg.
On September 29 she met with Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to USA Today, who reported that Barrett also met with “other key Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, which will oversee her nomination, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs the panel.”
Utah’s Lee announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on October 2. He said he will remain in isolation for the next 10 days but plans on being at Barrett’s Judicial Senate Hearing. The Centers for Disease Control recommends isolating for 10 days after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result. That puts Lee right at the 10-day mark once the hearings begin.
USA Today reported Barrett’s meetings with members of the senate all took place in large rooms and were one-on-one in observance of COVID-19 precautions. It’s not clear whether they wore masks.
Vice-President Pence tested negative for coronavirus on October 2, according to his press secretary Devin O’Malley.
Whether or Not Barrett’s Hearings Can Safely Go-Forth in Person Will Likely Depend on How Much the Virus Spread Among Lawmakers & Their Staffs
There are a total of 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and nine Democrats. As of the time of this writing, no other test results other than Lee’s have been announced for those Republican lawmakers.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has tested positive for the virus, according to New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman.
Senate Judiciary member, Kamala Harris, tested negative on October 1, according to Politico reporter Christopher Cadalago.
Yet with the uncertainty of the virus and the possibility of many being exposed in the White House, the situation in the next weeks will likely be one of wait and watch.
According to Time:
The contagion doesn’t just stop at the White House. Reporters who traveled with the President and Hicks to the Cleveland debate aboard Air Force One may have been exposed. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has been busy on Capitol Hill escorting his Supreme Court nominee to meetings with Senators as recently as Thursday. It’s unknown whether White House staffers could have exposed a government building packed with octogenarians.