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Graham officially schedules hearing on Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12

Graham officially schedules hearing on Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12
© Greg Nash

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE (R-S.C.) on Monday formally scheduled the panel to start its days-long hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination on Oct. 12.

The move by Graham — which aligns with a timeline released by his office late last month — comes as two GOP members of his committee have tested positive for the coronavirus and another two are self-isolating, sparking calls from Democrats to delay the proceedings.

But Republicans, including Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.), have vowed to move forward, regardless of whether the Senate is in session next week.

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The notice comes after Graham spoke with President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE earlier Monday about Barrett's nomination.

"Just spoke with President @realDonaldTrump and he sounds terrific -- very engaged and ready to get back to work! He’s also very excited about Judge Amy Coney Barrett being confirmed to the Supreme Court and focused on a good deal to help stimulate the economy," Graham tweeted.

Graham's scheduling of the Supreme Court hearing comes after he canceled a committee hearing set for Tuesday with former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeCarter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe McCabe defends investigation of Trump before Senate committee: We had 'many reasons' The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to know about the Pfizer vaccine announcement MORE, who had been expected to testify on the bureau's Russia probe. McCabe had refused to testify, citing health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Barrett, meanwhile, is expected to testify in person.

Democrats are calling on Republicans to delay the hearings, arguing they would jeopardize the health and safety of both senators and their staff.

The days-long hearing will pave the way for a committee vote on Barrett's nomination on Oct. 22. Republicans want to confirm Barrett on the Senate floor during the final week of October.

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Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' MORE (D-N.Y.) said earlier Monday that if Graham does not delay the hearings then he should require testing for senators and their staff.

"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.

"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," he added.

According to a Judiciary Committee aide, the hearing will last four days, including a first day of opening statements, followed by two days of questioning and a final day of testimony from outside witnesses. 

Any senator will be able to participate virtually if they want, according to the aide, but Graham will attend in person. 

Because of the coronavirus, the hearing is expected to be held in a larger committee room in order for senators to be able to adequately socially distance. 

The committee is expected to limit the number of staff and reporters in the room. The public has also not been allowed in the Capitol complex unless they had a specific meeting since earlier this year, and they are not expected to be in the hearing room. 

“Committee staff are working in concert with the Architect of the Capitol, Office of the Attending Physician (OAP), the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the Capitol Police, and the Rules Committee to ensure the nomination hearing for Judge Barrett is conducted safely and in accordance with public health recommendations – as we have done for all recent hearings,” the aide added. 

--Updated at 9:52 p.m.