McConnell declares ‘full steam ahead’ on Supreme Court nominee after Trump diagnosis
Top Senate Republicans said on Friday that President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis would not impact their timeline for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), in separate events on Friday, both indicated that they expect Barrett’s nomination to proceed as scheduled, with a days-long high-profile hearing set to start on Oct. 12.
“We can move forward. Our biggest enemy obviously is … the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job,” McConnell told radio Hugh Hewitt. “We don’t anticipate any kind of unanticipated event that could throw us off schedule.”
McConnell was more direct in a tweet on Friday, saying that he had spoken with Trump and it was “full steam ahead” on Barrett’s nomination.
Just finished a great phone call with @POTUS. He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 2, 2020
Graham, speaking in South Carolina on Friday, said Barrett’s nomination was “on track.” A GOP aide confirmed that there is no change to the Judiciary Committee timeline, where a hearing will start on Oct. 12. The committee will then vote on sending her nomination to the full Senate on Oct. 22.
Judd Deere, a spokesperson for the White House, said on Friday that Barrett had been tested, and her results came back negative. Barrett was with Trump at the White House on Saturday, and met with approximately 30 senators in the Capitol this week as part of one-on-one sitdowns about her nomination.
McConnell did float that Trump’s diagnosis could renew discussions about taking part in the Judiciary Committee hearings remotely. Committee hearings have already been scaled down, with limited staff and press, due to the coronavirus.
“The members have, some of them, done their interviews in previous hearings remotely. This sort of underscores the need to do that. I think every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mindset,” McConnell added.
McConnell reiterated on Friday that he expects the Judiciary Committee hearings to start on Oct. 12 and the committee to vote on Oct. 22.
“We will be voting on the nominee, you know, very soon. I haven’t picked an exact point to bring the nomination up, but it’s front and center for the American people and as we move ahead I’ll be more specific” about the timeline, McConnell said.
“I have spoken with Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham and assured them I will be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the committee and then to the full Senate,” Lee said.
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