Oct 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for the coronavirus

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) speaking during a Judiciary Committee hearing in September. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said in a statement Friday evening that he tested positive for the coronavirus, writing: "I’m following the recommendations of my doctor. Thankfully, I have no symptoms and feel well."

Why it matters: Tillis, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was at the White House last Saturday to watch President Trump introduce federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Tillis also met with Barrett at the Capitol on Sept. 30.

What they're saying: "COVID is a very contagious virus. If you were exposed or start to display symptoms, please call your doctor, self-isolate, and get tested," Tillis said.

The big picture: Tillis is the second GOP senator and second member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who was in attendance at the nomination ceremony Saturday and later tested positive for the virus. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also tested positive on Friday.

  • Tillis is in the throes of a hotly contested race in North Carolina against Democrat Cal Cunningham. The candidates debated in-person Thursday night.
  • I'm wishing [Tillis] a quick recovery following his positive COVID-19 test, and am thinking of him and his family," Cunningham said, adding that he would get tested for the virus.

The senator is also facing a compressed timeline to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Senate Republicans have said they intend to get Barrett on the Supreme Court by Election Day, though it is unclear how Tillis and Lee's diagnoses will affect the confirmation process.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged lawmakers to postpone Barrett's confirmation hearings, saying, "It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so."
  • Republicans currently hold a 12-10 majority on the committee. Barrett's hearings are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 12, two Senate sources familiar with the plans told Axios last week.
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