As of Monday, the Senate is in recess for two weeks due to many members of Trump’s staff, as well as three senators, testing positive for coronavirus. This is the first time since May that Mitch McConnell has adjourned the Senate because of coronavirus, and will potentially impact both the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and the passage of the stimulus bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to convene next Monday, October 12, to begin the nomination process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. McConnell stated on Monday, “We are full steam ahead with a fair through and timely confirmation process” and “The members have some of them done their interviews in previous hearings remotely. This sort of underscores the need to do that. I think every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all hands-on deck mindset”. Democrats are arguing that the hearings should be further delayed, as this move prioritizes judicial moves rather than public health. Senator Tim Kaine spoke on the floor on Monday and asked for the Senate break to be extended through Election Day, which McConnell swiftly rejected. His goal is for the Judiciary vote to occur on October 16, and for the floor vote to occur on October 26 – less than 10 days before Election Day.
In regard to the stimulus bill, Senate GOP leaders are claiming that agreement on a bill is not consequential for Republican incumbents in swing states. The last bill proposed by McConnell was rejected by Schumer and Pelosi, and it is unclear if a compromise will be reached in time.
All three senators who tested positive —Thom Tillis, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson — are part of the GOP’s 53-person majority in the Senate. Three more GOP senators — Ben Sasse, James Lankford, and Ted Cruz — have tested negative but are self-isolating after being exposed to their positive colleagues.
Media Resources: The Hill 10/5/20, The Intercept 10/6/20, Politico 10/1/20