Oct 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate postpones floor activity, but not Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings

Mitch McConnell stands in front of a staircase

McConelll walks through the Senate subway on Oct. 1. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday that he is postponing all floor activity through Oct. 19. However, hearings will still continue in a hybrid fashion, including the confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 12.

The bottom line: In the last 24 hours, three GOP senators have tested positive for the coronavirus bringing the Senate's Republican majority to 50-47. Despite their diagnoses, Senate GOP aides tell Axios that Republicans are still hoping to confirm Barrett before the election.

Between the lines: With the Senate out until 10/19, no stimulus can pass until 10/19 at the earliest, unless it is done via unanimous consent during a pro forma session.

  • However, McConnell did leave open the option to call senators back to Washington if votes need to occur, and said he will give them 24 hours notice if so (similar to the House).

How it works: The Judiciary committee needs 11 Republicans present at the committee's markup hearing to move Barrett's confirmation to the Senate floor.

  • Republicans are hoping that by the time a potential Barrett confirmation reaches the floor, senators who tested positive for the virus will be recovered and able to vote in person.

What he's saying: “On Monday, I intend to obtain a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions for the next two weeks. Previously-scheduled floor activity will be rescheduled until after October 19th," McConnell said in a press release.

  • "The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene on October 12th as Chairman Graham has scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court."

Of note: Two of the senators who tested positive for the virus — Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — are on the Senate Judiciary committee.

  • But given the hybrid nature of the hearings (all Senate hearings have allowed for participants to attend either in person or virtually since May) Lee and Tillis can still participate from home.
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