Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship 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 McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.), have vowed to move forward, regardless of whether the Senate is in session next week.
The notice comes after Graham spoke with President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul 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 McCabeAndrew McCabe's settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham Trump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle 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.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans 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.