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Democrats warn Supreme Court confirmation would endanger senators' health, call for delay

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are warning Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSpokesperson says Tennessee Democrat made 'poor analogy' in saying South Carolina voters have extra chromosome Former Graham challenger Jaime Harrison launches political action committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (R-S.C.) that he is putting his colleagues’ health in jeopardy by moving ahead with Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to start Oct. 12.

All ten Democrats on the Senate Judiciary panel are calling on Graham to delay confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report Federal appeals court sides with Texas, Louisiana efforts to cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE after two Republicans on the committee, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.), tested positive for COVID-19.

Other Republican members of the committee were present at a White House Rose Garden event on Saturday, Sept. 26, when President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE announced Barrett's nomination. 

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“To proceed at this juncture with a hearing to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body,” Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Durbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel MORE (Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary, and nine other Democrats, wrote in a letter to Graham Saturday.

The senators noted that “two members of this committee have already contracted COVID-19” and several other senators were “in close proximity” to them in recent days.

“As you aware, the CDC has advised that individuals ‘[s]tay home for 14 days after last contact with a person who has COVID-19,’ even if those individuals ‘test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy,’” the Democrats wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE (R-Ky.) announced earlier on Saturday that while he will postpone the Senate returning to Washington until Oct. 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings will proceed as scheduled.

“The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham,” McConnell said.

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The GOP leader asserted that the Judiciary Committee has “operated flawlessly through a hybrid method” during which some senators have appeared in person at hearings while others have participated by video link-up.

“The committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved,” McConnell said in a statement.

“Certainly all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee complained to Graham on Saturday that “holding a remote hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is not an adequate substitute.”

“As Republican members of this committee have recognized, questioning nominees by video is ineffective and ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court,” they wrote.

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The Judiciary Committee’s rules allow for proxy voting, which means that even if Lee and Tillis are still contagious or not feeling well when the committee convenes to report Barrett’s nomination to the floor, colleagues can cast proxy votes on their behalf.

The panel’s rules state: “When a recorded vote is taken in the committee on any bill, resolution, amendment, or any other question, a quorum being present, members who are unable to attend the meeting may submit votes by proxy, in writing or by telephone, or through personal instructions.”

Senate Democrats have called on Graham and other Republicans to delay the confirmation process since the evening of Sept. 18, when late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE’s death was announced.

Democrats led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) have argued forcefully since that moment that the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election should pick Ginsburg’s successor. Political handicappers rate Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE, the Democratic nominee, as the likely winner.