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McConnell: I've Decided on the Barrett Hearing

The media asks whether her Rose Garden event was a 'super-spreader'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2020 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – With three colleagues sidelined by COVID-19, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he's shelving all votes for the next two weeks—but Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing will continue, the Washington Post reports. Two of the Republican senators who tested positive, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, are on the Judiciary Committee that would begin the hearing on Oct. 12. "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," McConnell said. "The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved." For more:

  • Not everyone agrees: "If it's too dangerous to have the Senate in session it is also too dangerous for committee hearings to continue," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, per the Hill. "Leader McConnell and Chairman [Lindsey] Graham's monomaniacal drive to confirm Judge Barrett at all costs needlessly threatens the health and safety of Senators, staff, and all those who work in the Capitol complex."

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  • 10 days: Lee said he only plans to self-isolate for 10 days and will return in time for the confirmation, Politico reports. "I will be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues," he said. Tillis also said 10 days will be enough for him. The CDC says quarantines should last for 14 days after contact with an infected person.
  • 'Super-spreader': Was President Trump's Rose Garden celebration of Barrett a super-spreader event? The New York Times considers it "highly unlikely" because it happened outdoors, but indoor discussions were also held, and people who later tested positive did attend—Tillis, Lee, Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Chris Christie, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins, Kellyanne Conway, and of course Trump. And while lawmakers were tested on arrival, per the Wall Street Journal, they didn't wear masks or social distance. TMZ calls it a "super-spreader event" and the "Rose Garden massacre."
  • More senators: Other Judiciary Committee members who attended include Sens. Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, Marsha Blackburn, and Mike Crapo, Time reports. Blackburn said she later tested negative, while Crapo said he "recently" tested negative, and Sasse tested negative but will work remotely anyway.
  • Barrett's health: As for Barrett, the Post reports that she had COVID-19 this summer and recovered. Whether that gives her resistance is unclear, but the CDC says there are no confirmed reports of anyone getting reinfected within three months of their infection, per Newsweek. She tested negative after the Rose Garden event.
  • Lawmaker testing: Capitol Hill lawmakers are calling for better testing in both chambers of Congress—but McConnell and Nancy Pelosi "have resisted doing so because universal testing is not available to everyone in America," NBC Boston reports.
(Read more Amy Coney Barrett stories.)

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