Senate Republicans pledged to plow ahead with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite President Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19 and the potential for an outbreak among their ranks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the virus the “biggest enemy” standing in the way of confirming Barrett, given the close margin of votes he is working with.
With two Republicans already opposed to confirming a nominee so close to the November election, McConnell can afford to lose only one more vote on the Senate floor and still confirm Barrett. Because senators must be in the chamber to cast a vote, any absence of a Republican because of illness or necessary quarantine could put the vote tally at risk.
Republicans are “keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our jobs,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. “Every precaution needs to be taken. We don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mind-set.”
Republicans view Barrett’s confirmation as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pull the Supreme Court to the right, one that they are unlikely to allow anything to derail. But it was Barrett’s nomination that could have put lawmakers at risk.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he had tested positive for the virus. He attended the announcement of Barrett’s nomination at the White House Rose Garden Saturday along with Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, the president of the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett used to teach, and White House aide Hope Hicks,