Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who sit on the Judiciary Committee, examined optimistic for Covid-19 on Friday — simply days after attending a White Home occasion the place President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. A number of attendees of that occasion, together with Trump, have examined optimistic within the week because the ceremony, which featured many individuals not carrying masks and never observing social distancing protocols.
Johnson didn’t attend the Barrett nomination ceremony — the place a number of individuals appeared to have been uncovered to the virus — as a result of he was quarantining from a previous publicity, throughout which he twice examined destructive for the virus, based on the spokesman.
Not like Democratic senators, Senate Republicans meet 3 times every week for lunch. And whereas they sit in a big room, they take away their masks to eat and to talk. Johnson, Lee and Tillis all attended Senate GOP lunches this week.
If the three senators stay out this month, it will successfully forestall Barrett from being confirmed to the Supreme Court docket till they return, which might be after Election Day throughout a lame-duck session. A lame-duck affirmation is a scenario that GOP leaders are desirous to keep away from in case they lose management of the chamber subsequent month.
Certainly, Republicans are apprehensive about getting sufficient votes to verify a nominee in a lame-duck session after the election in the event that they lose their majority — and the White Home — and Democrats put together to take energy in January. The concern is that one or two GOP senators could break ranks after seeing the election outcomes and citing the need of the voters.
Already, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have indicated they’re “no” votes if the affirmation vote occurs earlier than the election, and will vote towards a nominee in a lame-duck session as effectively.
With a 53-47 Senate majority, Republicans can’t afford to lose greater than three senators as a way to get the nomination confirmed.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham informed CNN on Friday night time that he deliberate to push ahead and maintain hearings starting October 12 and would attempt to get the nomination authorised by his panel by October 22. Graham may maintain digital affirmation hearings for Barrett, or maintain the listening to in particular person however have Lee and Tillis attend remotely in the event that they’re nonetheless in quarantine.
Graham would want a majority of his committee current for a quorum as a way to approve the nomination, and the absences of Lee and Tillis may forestall that from occurring if Democrats boycott the proceedings. However even when they do not have a quorum, Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell can all the time advance the nomination to the ground below the foundations with out a committee vote.
Johnson isn’t on the Judiciary panel however wouldn’t have the ability to vote on the ground if he weren’t current. Johnson’s workplace mentioned the Wisconsin senator was once more uncovered “shortly after” returning to Washington on September 29 and was examined Friday afternoon.
“This take a look at got here again optimistic. Senator Johnson feels wholesome and isn’t experiencing signs. He’ll stay remoted till given the all-clear by his physician,” Voelkel mentioned in a press release.
Many of the workers within the Republican senator’s Washington workplace have been working remotely, and the workplace will go all-virtual for the fast future, Voelkel mentioned.
This story has been up to date with extra background data and context.
CNN’s Megan Trimble and Terence Burlij contributed to this story.