The day before Sen. Mike Lee disclosed he had tested positive for COVID-19, the Utah Republican participated in an in-person Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that lasted about 90 minutes and was attended by 15 other senators.
That session Thursday – during which Lee and other senators debated nominations while not wearing masks – highlights the possible pitfalls of the Senate Republicans’ fast-track confirmation plan for Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Trump disclosed that he had tested positive Friday, and at least seven other people who attended a White House ceremony unveiling Barrett’s nomination have also been infected, including two Republican members of the Judiciary Committee.
Many other senators on the committee, which will question Barrett and consider whether she should be confirmed to the high court, have almost certainly been exposed to the coronavirus.If additional senators become ill and if they abide by federal quarantine guidelines, that could jeopardize the already-scrunched timeline for Barrett’s confirmation.
Sarah Binder, an expert on Congress with the Brookings Institution think tank, said the variables are the course of the virus within Senate GOP ranks and “how brazen Republicans will be to bend or nuke rules that require physical presence of senators.”