Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back Senate legislative business for a week on Saturday, due to rising health concerns after three Republican senators test positive for the coronavirus.
The Senate will reconvene on October 19, but Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, vowed the delay will not interrupt the set start date for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
“The important work of the Senate’s committees can and will continue as each committee sees fit,” he said in a statement. “The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham.”
“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,” he added.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, is keeping the set October 12 start date and will allow for virtual participation.
Senators will be given a 24-hour notice for any votes that come up before the 19th.
The decision comes after Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Tom Tillis of North Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin all tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 24 hours. Both Mr. Lee and Mr. Tillis are on the Senate Judiciary Committee. All three attended Senate Republican’s weekly lunches.
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma has not tested positive but will be quarantining after meeting with Mr. Lee several times throughout the week.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer doubled down on Democrats’ calls to hold off with Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings until the threat of exposure amongst senators dies down.
“The decision to recess the Senate for 2 weeks after at least 3 GOP Senators have tested positive for COVID makes clear that the Senate cannot proceed with business as usual,” the New York Democrat tweeted. “If it’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session, it’s too dangerous for committee hearings to continue.”