Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led nine of his Democrat colleagues to urge Vice President Mike Pence to stay away from the Senate Monday, as Senators take their final vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter (pdf) to Pence saying, “It’s not a risk worth taking,” referring to recent news about the spread of the virus among his aides.
Five of Vice President Mike Pence’s staffers tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the White House confirmed on Oct. 25.
Pence chief of staff Marc Short and adviser Marty Obst tested positive for the CCP virus. The three other people who have tested positive haven’t been identified.
The Senate is poised to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in what is expected to be a largely partisan vote on Monday evening. Democrats have argued that the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election should be the one to choose the nominee to fill the seat made vacant by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
The Senate, in a rare weekend session on Oct. 25, voted 51-48, largely along party lines, to limit debate on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, setting up the vote Monday. With the majority of Republicans voting in favor of Judge Barrett’s confirmation, Pence’s tie-breaking vote may not be needed.
In their letter, Democrats say that the vice president’s presence will not be needed since Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm Barrett.
“Not only would your presence in the Senate Chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy,” the Democrats wrote.
Democratic Senators had previously called for the confirmation hearings to be postponed due to some in the White House and Senate testing positive for the virus in September, but Republicans forged ahead, saying all CDC guidelines were being followed.
Pence and his wife, Karen, both have tested negative for the virus, a spokesman says. On Oct. 25, Pence’s office, in confirming the new cases to Fox News, said the vice president will continue to campaign.
The Democrats criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, claiming that the president and vice president are not taking the spread of the virus seriously.
“Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow is essential,” the Democrats wrote.
When White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was asked if the Vice President would be present at the Senate vote, he responded, “I think that is in flux.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.