Schumer: Graham must require testing for senators, staff before Supreme Court hearings

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Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that Senate Republicans should require testing for senators and staff if they will not delay a Supreme Court hearing scheduled to start next week, amid an outbreak of coronavirus cases. 

“Instead of engaging in continuously more absurd and dangerous behavior, Chairman Graham should halt this already illegitimate nomination process, and if he refuses, he must put into place a thorough testing procedure that is in accordance with CDC best practices before hearings can take place,” Schumer said in a statement. 

Schumer added that holding the hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination without implementing testing would be “intentionally reckless.” He also floated that it would raise questions that Republicans “may not want to know the results, because it could delay this already illegitimate process.” 

“Every Senator and relevant staff must have negative tests on two consecutive days and have completed the appropriate quarantining period, and there should be mandatory testing every day of the hearing,” Schumer said. 

Schumer’s demand for testing comes after three GOP senators, including two members of the Judiciary Committee, tested positive for the coronavirus late last week. Several other members of the committee were at the White House event last weekend for Trump’s announcement on Barrett’s nomination, but have said they have tested negative. 

In addition to Tillis and Lee, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are both working remotely until next week, but have tested negative. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also announced Saturday that he had tested positive and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is working remotely after meeting with Lee last week; neither are members of the Judiciary Committee. 

The Capitol doesn’t have a regular testing routine for lawmakers, their staff and reporters they interact with on a daily basis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), asked about testing last week, defended the Senate’s practices, saying they had been “following the advice of the CDC in how we operate the Senate,” referring to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The hearings for Barrett are scheduled to start Oct. 12, a timeline top Republicans have said they are sticking with even after the three GOP senators tested positive. 

Graham has said that any senator who wants to take part in the hearing remotely will be able to do so, though Barrett is expected to testify in person. 

GOP aides quickly characterized Schumer’s request as a delay tactic, with a spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.) saying: “This is not about health with Schumer; it’s all about delay and should be treated as such.” 

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination Ben Sasse Capitol coronavirus cases Charles Schumer Coronavirus James Lankford Mitch McConnell Ron Johnson Senate coronavirus cases Supreme Court hearings Ted Cruz

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