GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign 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 TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing 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 PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.) and Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as White House continues to push vaccination effort The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana MORE (R-La.) both announced they had tested positive in March and August, respectively. Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRepublicans urge probe into Amazon government cloud-computing bid: report Allowing a racist slur against Tim Scott to trend confirms social media's activist bias Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill 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 McConnellAssaults on Roe v Wade increasing Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  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 PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory 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 IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law 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 CoonsUS, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks How the United States can pass Civics 101 Americans for Prosperity launches campaign targeting six Democrats to oppose ending filibuster 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 HawleyTrump plugs Hawley's new book over tech industry Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee MORE (R-Mo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Memo: Trump's critics face wrath of GOP base Will Biden's NASA win the space race with China? Hillicon Valley: Parler app risks charges of selling out with Apple return | Justices hear First Amendment clash over cheerleader's Snapchat | Google pressed to conduct racial equity audit MORE (R-Tenn.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBiden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push Bottom line Senate GOP crafts outlines for infrastructure counter proposal MORE (R-Idaho) and Ben SasseBen SasseSasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls NYT's Stephens says Ted Cruz more 'unctuous' than Eddie Haskell 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 SchumerBiden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs 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.