The Senate is expected to confirm Amy Coney Barrett in a Monday evening vote as the White House has still not said whether or not Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the proceedings after being exposed to coronavirus by multiple aides.
Democrats are pleading with Pence not to come to the Capitol to fulfil his largely ceremonial role, as is customary for vice presidents in landmark votes, claiming in a letter ‘it’s not a risk worth taking.’
With little Democrats can do to stop the confirmation from going forward, the White House has already started planning a celebration – similar to the ‘superspreader’ event announcing Barrett’s nomination at the end of September, which sparked a COVID-19 outbreak at the White House.
This caused President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and their son Barron to contract the virus.
The next event, which is not yet set in stone, would be held outdoors in the Rose Garden Monday night and include a ceremonial swearing in of Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Senior administration officials told ABC News that the details are not finalized and that celebration could be moved to Tuesday. They also say it is unclear who would do the ‘swearing in’ at the White House event.
The Senate is expected to vote Monday evening, following 30 hours of debate, to confirm 7th Circuit appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett’s to the Supreme Court
Despite Democrats’ pleas for him to stay away, it is still yet clear if Vice President Mike Pence will attend the proceedings after coming in close contact with several aides who have tested positive for coronavirus
Not only could the event spark another superspreader to attendees, but Pence’s potential presence at the Capitol Monday could spread the virus to several at-risk members of Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his leadership team wrote in a letter that Pence showing up for the vote go against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and ‘be a violation of common decency and courtesy.’
‘Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential,’ the Democrats wrote.
Of the 100 senators, 69 are 60-years or older and medical professionals say those in that age range are at a much larger risk of dying if they contract COVID-19.
Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short tested positive for coronavirus, it was announced over the weekend, and the vice president regularly has close contact with his top aide. Four other aides to Pence also tested positive for coronavirus.
Pence and second lady Karen Pence both tested negative on Saturday.
As Pence traveled over the weekend to continue campaigning for he and Trump’s reelection, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows argued that he is an essential worker and therefore entitled to travel.
Pence is holding a campaign rally in Minnesota Monday, but will arrive back in Washington D.C. ahead of the expected evening vote.
The White House is planning a Rose Garden celebration of her confirmation, similar to the ‘superspreader’ event announcing Barrett’s nomination last month that sparked a White House coronavirus outbreak – infecting the president, first lady and their son, as well as several top aides and lawmakers
The vice president’s presence is not needed in the Senate for a tie-breaking vote Monday, as Republicans already have the votes needed to easily get Barrett’s nomination through.
Following the vote Monday evening, the Senate will recess until after the election.
On Sunday, the Senate held a procedural vote to advance Barrett’s nomination and kicked off 30 hours of debate, which will clear the way for a vote Monday evening.
The 51-48 vote was largely along party lines, with two Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voting with Democrats. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris was not present to cast a vote as she was campaigning in Michigan on Sunday.
‘This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a rare weekend session.
McConnell lauded that Democrats ‘won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come’, in contrast to legislative actions, which can be undone with new executive or legislative terms.
Barrett, a 48-year-old appellate judge for the 7th circuit, is a staunch Roman Catholic and life-long conservative. Her personal pro-life views have raised eyebrows among progressives who claim she will dismantle a woman’s right to an abortion by working to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Her lifetime appointment to the highest U.S. court will also drastically change the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation to come.
The mother of seven – five biological and two adopted from Haiti – has embraced her classification as the ‘female Antonin Scalia’ and says his jurisprudential practice of ‘applying the law as written’ will be how she serves.
Following a 51-48 vote Sunday to advance Barrett’s nomination, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, ‘This is something to be really proud of and feel good about,’ adding: Democrats ‘won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come’
During the three days of confirmation hearings earlier this month, including a day of opening statements and two days of questioning, Barrett reiterated her stance as a textualist and originalist, stressing this means she would apply the Constitution to cases as it’s written and was intended by the drafters.
In the short term, Barrett could help decide election and voting-related issues as the vote on her confirmation comes just over a week before Election Day.
Donald Trump has made it clear he feels the results of the election could end up at the Supreme Court – and with a conservative majority of 6-3 with Barrett seated, it’s more likely they would rule in favor of the president.
Also about a week after the election the Supreme Court will take up a case on the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats fear will be overturned if Barrett has anything to say about it.