WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans have canceled legislative work until Oct. 19 as the coronavirus sweeps through their ranks and lawmakers increasingly call for comprehensive testing on Capitol Hill.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday that confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are still on. There was no immediate word on whether Senate Democrats would agree to shutter Senate business as McConnell requested.
One by one, President Donald Trump and a series of GOP lawmakers have fallen ill with the virus that has killed more than 208,000 Americans.
Over the last week, many of the politicians who tested positive attended events at which few people wore masks and mingled in the halls and tunnels of the Capitol complex.
Just since Friday morning, Trump, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced that they have tested positive.
The Senate was to reconvene this week ahead of its confirmation proceedings for Barrett. McConnell has said those hearings, scheduled to begin Oct. 12, are “full steam ahead.”
Full statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding the upcoming Senate floor schedule:
“On Monday, I intend to obtain a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions for the next two weeks. Previously-scheduled floor activity will be rescheduled until after October 19th.
“The important work of the Senate’s committees can and will continue as each committee sees fit. The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene on October 12th as Chairman Graham has scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham.
“Since May, the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually. The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved. Certainly all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.
“Elaine and I continue to pray for President Trump, the First Lady, and all of those impacted by COVID-19.”