GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Biden's court picks face fierce GOP opposition MORE (N.C.) said on Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the second GOP senator who was at the White House on Saturday to be diagnosed with the virus.

"Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive," Tillis said in a statement.

The news of Tillis's diagnosis comes as Washington was upended after President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE disclosed that he had tested positive for the virus, jolting an already chaotic election year.


Tillis, who said he is currently asymptomatic, is the fourth senator known to have tested positive, and the second member of the Judiciary Committee. 

Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulI'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back Rand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN Trump slams Biden, voices unsubstantiated election fraud claims at first rally of 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) and Bill CassidyBill Cassidy​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Sunday shows - Voting rights legislation dominates GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech MORE (R-La.) both announced they had tested positive in March and August, respectively. Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSchumer ramps up filibuster fight ahead of Jan. 6 anniversary Juan Williams: The GOP is an anti-America party Manchin faces pressure from Gillibrand, other colleagues on paid family leave MORE (R-Utah), who was also at the White House event on Saturday and was seen not wearing a mask, announced earlier Friday that he had tested positive.
"I will be following the recommendations of my doctor and will be self-isolating at home for 10 days and notifying those I’ve been in close contact with," said Tillis, who was seen in photos wearing a mask at the White House event. 

Tillis, like Lee, participated in committee meetings and caucus lunches in the Capitol this week, and also interacted with reporters. 

Tillis is in the final stretch of a tough reelection fight against Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham, who has led the GOP senator in several recent polls. The two men faced off in a debate Thursday night. Cunningham said in a tweet Friday night that he will now get tested.

Tillis's campaign said Friday night that staffers who were around the senator will now quarantine.

"The Tillis campaign staffers who were exposed to the Senator this week will now quarantine and will receive tests in the coming days. Our Charlotte campaign headquarters is now closed and we are halting all in-person campaign events until further notice," said campaign manager Luke Blanchat. "Additionally, we are reaching out to any individuals who may have come into contact with Senator Tillis during the campaign events we held this week."

The diagnosis for Tillis and Lee is injecting fresh uncertainty into the GOP timeline for trying to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster?  Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks MORE (R-S.C.) both pledged earlier Friday that they would move ahead with Barrett's nomination as planned, with a hearing set to start Oct. 12.

"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. Fullsteam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve," McConnell said in a tweet.

After the hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a vote on Barrett's nomination Oct. 22, paving the way for a final Senate vote during the last week of October.
Both Tillis and Lee, according to timelines given in their statements, are planning to return to the Senate Judiciary Committee in time for the vote on Barrett's nomination. But if they are still absent it would throw a curveball into Graham's plans.
Though senators can vote by proxy in committee business meetings, aides confirmed Friday that those votes do not count if they change the outcome. Unlike on the Senate floor, there is not a tiebreaker in committees and a tie is the same as a nomination failing.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoRussia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Winter is here for Democrats Overnight Defense & National Security — Nuclear states say no winners in global war MORE's nomination hit a similar, temporary snag, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2018; Republicans held a one-seat advantage and GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonSchumer makes plea for voting bill, filibuster reform in rare Friday session Jan. 6 brings Democrats, Cheneys together — with GOP mostly absent Pelosi leads moment of silence for Jan. 6 with no Republicans except Cheneys MORE (Ga.) was going to vote for Pompeo by proxy, but because including his vote would have changed the outcome, it could not be counted and Pompeo was temporarily stuck at a tie. In the end, Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats' filibuster gambit unravels Sen. Rob Portman announces positive COVID-19 test Ukraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia MORE (D-Del.) agreed to vote present as part of a previous agreement with Isakson.
Four other members of the Judiciary Committee — Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks On The Money — US regulators go after illegal mergers MORE (R-Mo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSunday shows preview: Democrats' struggle for voting rights bill comes to a head CNN legal analyst knocks GOP senator over remark on Biden nominee Senate GOP introduces resolution to nix Biden health worker vaccine mandate MORE (R-Tenn.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoAlabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash Senate Republicans call on Biden to lift vaccine mandate for truckers crossing Canadian border GOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision MORE (R-Idaho) and Ben SasseBen SasseSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Democrats outraged after Manchin opposes Biden spending bill Senate confirms Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan MORE (R-Neb.) — were seated near Tillis and Lee on Saturday. Spokespeople for Blackburn, Crapo and Hawley did not immediately respond to questions on Friday night about if they had been tested. 
Sasse, according to a spokesman, was tested Friday, but his test came back negative. 
"After consulting with the Senate attending physician and Nebraska doctors, he will work remotely from his home in Nebraska, undergoing further testing. He will return to Washington for in-person work beginning October 12," the spokesman added. 
But McConnell, speaking in Kentucky earlier Friday, rejected the idea of delaying Barrett's nomination until senators found out who, if anyone else, would test positive for the coronavirus. Graham disclosed Friday that he had been tested, but was negative.
"I'm planning on moving to the nomination as soon as it comes out of committee," McConnell said, in one of his clearest indications yet that he will schedule a vote on Barrett's nomination before the Nov. 3 election.
Democrats, however, are calling on Republicans to put a hold on the schedule for Barrett until senators are able to better understand their potential level of exposure. 
"We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown DACA highlights pitfalls of legalization schemes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted on Friday night. "It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so."

Updated: 11:32 p.m.