Oct 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ron Johnson says he would wear a "moon suit" to vote on Barrett confirmation

Ron Johnson wearing a mask.

Sen. Ron Johnson walks through the Senate subway on Oct. 1, days before he revealed he tested positive for coronavirus. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who recently tested positive for COVID-19, told Wisconsin radio station 630 KHOW that he would go to the Senate "in a moon suit" if that's what is required to vote in person for the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: Senate Democrats have demanded that confirmation hearings be delayed in light of positive COVID-19 tests for Johnson and two senators on the Judiciary Committee — Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said pushing ahead "would turn an illegitimate process into a reckless and dangerous one."

The big picture: Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham said he still hopes to confirm Barrett before the election.

  • The hearings, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 12., are slated to go on in hybrid fashion, but the Senate must change its rules in order to adopt remote voting.
  • Republican officials told Axios on Saturday they worry that the number of infected people around President Trump will rise, and they fear that enough senators could be sidelined to delay Barrett's confirmation.

What he's saying: Johnson said he would "certainly try to find a way" to ensure the confirmation hearings could go on in a safe way and that he would be willing to change the rules of the Senate to allow for electronic voting. "We all use the internet. It's a great device. So is the telephone," Johnson said.

  • "But if we have to go in and vote, I've already told the leadership, I'll go in in a moon suit. We think this is pretty important."
  • "[Y]ou can go into the medical clinic, you can take the precautions and do it safely, but we wouldn't be able to do that on the floor of the Senate? Where there's a will, there's a way."
  • Johnson downplayed Democrats' concerns about spreading the virus in the Senate, calling Schumer an "obstructionist" and saying he is doing "everything he can to try and prevent this."

The state of play: Positive tests for three GOP senators mean the Senate's Republican majority is now 50-47.

  • The Judiciary Committee needs 11 of 12 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.

Go deeper: Who has tested positive in Trumpworld

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