'Full steam ahead:' Senate Republicans to push court nominee despite Trump's Covid-19 status

Judge Amy Coney Barrett meets with Republican Senator from Louisiana Bill Cassidy at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett meets with Republican Senator from Louisiana Bill Cassidy at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Image: Jim Lo Scalzo/REUTERS

The US Senate Judiciary Committee's plan to begin confirmation hearings for US. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on October 12 remain unchanged, despite President Donald Trump's positive Covid-19 test result, a Senate aide said on Friday.

“Full steam ahead,” the aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham responded to Reuters, when asked if the hearing schedule for hearings to begin on October 12 could change.

Graham spoke to Trump on Friday morning and said the first thing Trump asked was about was the Senate's plan for his nominee's confirmation, the aide added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said the Senate would advance Barrett's confirmation but sounded a cautious note about the potential impact of Covid-19.

“I think we can move forward. Our biggest enemy, obviously, is ... the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job,” McConnell told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

McConnell described the Senate's decision on whether to confirm Barrett as being “front and centre for the American people” and said the Senate would act after a committee recommendation due Oct. 22.

Barrett's nomination faces fierce opposition from Senate Democrats and will face questions about her judicial philosophy and approach to the law when she comes before Graham's panel.

Democrats argue the vacancy should be filled after the next president is chosen on November 3, a view shared by a majority of Americans, according to recent national polls. Trump's Republican allies, who hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, have vowed to follow a compressed timeline to confirm her before then.

Barrett, seen as a reliable conservative, would replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equality and other liberal causes who died on Sept. 18 at age 87. She previously sat for a hearing when she was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. — Reuters  



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