U.S. Senate floor activity rescheduled, but Supreme Court nominee hearing to continue

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WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to speak to the media after the weekly Republican policy luncheon September 22, 2020 at Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. McConnell discussed Republican efforts to confirm a new justice to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that all Senate floor activity would be rescheduled until after October 19, but committee work, like the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, would continue.

“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,” McConnell said in a statement.

This comes after a third GOP senator tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

Barrett’s hearing is scheduled to begin Oct. 12.

“The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair and historically supported confirmation process,” McConnell wrote.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina added that senators can attend the hearings remotely.

“Certainly,” McConnell said, “all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.”

This comes as multiple officials and President Trump tested positive for coronavirus.

It had sidelined the president after a busy week of ceremonies and other events where few attendees wore masks, including on Air Force One. Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had been infected Friday. Hours later, Trump was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

A source said the president went through a “very concerning” period Friday and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.

Republicans in the Senate who had attended GOP events began announcing that they too had tested positive. First was Utah Sen. Mike Lee, then North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. On Saturday, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced he too had been infected. Several other Republicans announced they were awaiting test results or quarantining at home just to be safe.

Members of the House and Senate, meanwhile, increasingly demanded that Congress adopt uniform testing and tracing plans for anyone in the warren of the Capitol.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took aim at McConnell’s plan, saying that if the COVID threat is too great for Senate sessions, it makes Barrett’s confirmation perilous, too.

“If it’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session, it’s too dangerous for committee hearings to continue,” said Schumer in a tweet Saturday.

This comes after two members of the Judiciary Committee that will handle Barrett’s confirmation, Tillis and Lee, they had tested positive for the virus.

With three Republican senators infected and others awaiting results, McConnell is without a fully working majority of 50 senators. He would need to rely on Vice President Mike Pence to be on hand to break any tie votes.

Amid the outbreak, members of both chambers of Congress called for a comprehensive testing plan for Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McConnell have resisted doing so because universal testing is not available to everyone in America.

Some senators called for a more stringent protocol and contact tracing for Congress. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called on McConnell to require immediate tests for every senator and staff member who has visited the White House over the past two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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