Senate announces recess until October 19 after multiple lawmakers test positive for the coronavirus

  • The Senate announced Saturday that it will go into a recess until October 19 after three Republican lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus. 
  • The latest to announce a positive test was Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who said on Saturday that he had contracted the disease. Johnson, 65, is in quarantine and is exhibiting no symptoms.
  • Despite the recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee said that it will continue on in the process to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg replacement Amy Coney Barrett to the bench.
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The Senate announced Saturday that it will go into a recess until October 19 after three Republican lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The latest to announce a positive test was Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who said on Saturday that he had contracted the disease. Johnson, 65, is in quarantine and is exhibiting no symptoms. 

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina have also tested positive for the coronavirus. Both lawmakers serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to hold hearings on nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Despite the coronavirus having infected two of its members and despite the Senate going into recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee said that it will continue on in the process to nominate Barrett to the bench, according to the New York Times' Eric Lipton. 

"According to the standing rules of the U.S. Senate, committees may convene regardless of whether or not the Senate is in session," Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham said, adding that the committee "will proceed with the consideration of the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States on October 12, 2020."

Graham told CNN Friday that Trump was "very focused" on getting Barrett onto the Supreme Court and that the nomination remained "on track." Even Lee, who after announcing the results of his test said he will remain in isolation, plans to be back at work in time to take part in the hearings. 

The news about pressing forward was met with backlash from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Democrats are opposed to Barrett's nomination, with many refusing to meet with her. They have said a new justice shouldn't be confirmed to join the high court until after the election, hoping that nominating a new justice will instead fall to Biden.

"It's critical that Chairman Graham put the health of senators, the nominee and staff first – and ensure a full and fair hearing that is not rushed, not truncated, and not virtual," Schumer and Feinstein said in a joint statement. "Otherwise this already illegitimate process will become a dangerous one."

The coronavirus has also spread to the White House. President Donald and first lady Melania Trump announced early Friday that they tested positive. Other advisers close to the president, including senior counselor Hope Hicks and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, also tested positive. 

The coronavirus has infected more than 7.3 million people in the United States, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that figure, more than 208,000 people have died from it. 

This is a developing story.

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