The Democrats are seizing on an opportunistic coronavirus outbreak to advance their efforts to block President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee after admitting “nothing is off the table” when it comes to doing whatever it takes to stop the nomination.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “it’s not safe” for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee after three Republican senators tested positive for coronavirus.
“If it’s not safe for the Senate to meet in session, it’s not safe for the hearings to go forward,” Schumer said during a Sunday press conference.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Saturday after the positive cases were announced, that the Senate would not meet this week as planned, but that the Republicans still fully intend to move forward with their efforts to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett prior to the election.
“The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out,” McConnell said in a statement.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to begin four days of confirmation hearings on Oct. 12, a move that Schumer is pushing back on.
“Mitch McConnell seems to be jamming through the hearings on Amy Coney Barrett, even though three senators have COVID… There is no reason on God’s green earth why this shouldn’t be delayed.” Schumer said.
The unexpected increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on Capitol Hill might not be as surprising as you would think considering that lawmakers and their staffers are not required to be routinely tested.
Conveniently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to implement COVID-19 testing for lawmakers in the nation’s capital.
Republican lawmaker Steve Scalise revealed that Pelosi was blocking efforts to normalize the testing of those on Capitol Hill.
“I mean these protocols have been out there and the testing capabilities have been out there for a long time. They were offered to the speaker and she turned it down,” Scalise said on “Fox and Friends Weekend.”
“I think it’s something that should have been in Congress for a few weeks now,” Scalise continued. “But ultimately that’s what the speaker decided to do.”
Another Republican lawmaker, Rodney Davis, sent the following letter to Pelosi on Friday blasting the Speaker’s failure for putting into effect a plan for regular testing.
“I am writing again today to reiterate my concern that we do not have a comprehensive health monitoring system and testing program for our Capitol Hill campus in order to help us do our part to stop the spread of coronavirus. I have stood ready to engage with your office and my counterpart on the Committee on House Administration for months, but my requests have gone unanswered. While I appreciate that the attending physician has been able to conduct COVID-19 testing for members who have symptoms or have been exposed, provide very limited staff testing, and advise offices on contact tracing, our ability to monitor the health and safety of the House is severely lacking because you have failed to implement a plan.
Universities, public institutions, private businesses, and communities across the country have embraced technologies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the House has failed to adopt similar tools that are now being used nationwide. As testing has advanced and become more readily available, the House’s posture on testing has not evolved from where we were months ago. Reports of changes to test offerings by the attending physician announced today are misleading as the criteria for receiving a test from the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) remains largely unchanged. I’m concerned this has created confusion and misled everyone who works on Capitol Hill to believe testing options have been expanded.
The attending physician gives recommendations to our community, but the policies on how we govern the House are set by you and a widespread testing program has not been adopted because you have opposed it. This institution, similar to the White House, must continue to function to serve the American people during this pandemic. As a result, thousands of people who support this institution, report on this institution, and protect this institution, must continue to come to work and have not had the luxury of staying in their homes and working by proxy or remotely like some of your caucus members.
Our testing criteria should not reflect the news of the day or be to politically shield your office when difficult news breaks. This is not an acceptable way to communicate and continues to show your partisanship on this issue. Additionally, today provided a stark reminder that you and other members of Congress were able to receive a COVID-19 test, while in other instances essential workers of the House have been denied the same test because your office has failed to implement what you have called for nationwide. This is a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to governing that has been politicized when policies are inconsistently communicated and enforced and falls short of what our constituents deserve.
I reiterate my desire to work with you and stand willing to work with your team to develop and execute a plan that provides comprehensive and continuous health monitoring and testing capabilities for our transient congressional population and all who support the first branch of government.”