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Schumer warns of COVID-19 danger posed by Pence on Senate floor

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.) is warning colleagues to spend as little time on the Senate floor as possible after members of Vice President Pence’s staff and Senate GOP aides tested positive for COVID-19.

Schumer is sounding the alarm ahead of a final up-or-down vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettCardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship MORE, over which Pence, who is the president of the Senate, is expected to preside in the chamber. That vote is expected Monday evening.

Schumer urged colleagues not to congregate on the Senate floor Sunday or Monday and to “cast your votes quickly and from a safe distance” following news that at least five people in Pence’s circle have tested positive for the virus, including the vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short.

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The Senate is scheduled to vote after 1 p.m. Sunday to advance Barrett’s nomination to a final vote.

The Democratic leader criticized Pence on Sunday for not following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for self-quarantining, despite heading the White House coronavirus task force.

“The Vice President is maintaining his campaign schedule and, inexplicably, intends to preside over the Senate chamber tomorrow evening. Their carelessness with the health and safety of their colleagues and Capitol employees mirrors their carelessness with the health and safety of Americans during this crisis,” Schumer wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter.

Schumer said that “we have seen a number of reports of Republican staff testing positive for COVID-19” over the past couple of days, including “members of a senator’s staff” and members of Pence’s team.

Two aides to Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerTrump set for precedent-breaking lame-duck period Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight House Democrat accuses Air Force of attempting to influence Georgia runoff races MORE (R-Ga.) have also tested positive for the coronavirus, though Loeffler announced Saturday that she had tested negative.

“Considering the Republicans’ refusal [to] follow CDC guidelines regarding quarantining and contact tracing, I would recommend that you not congregate in the Senate chamber today and that you cast your votes quickly and from a safe distance,” Schumer wrote.

Updated at 1:47 p.m.