Updated Oct 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence no longer expected at Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote

Vice President Mike Pence
Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Senate's final confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Pence aide confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday. On Sunday, Senate Democrats claimed that his presence after possible exposure to the coronavirus would be a "violation of common decency."

Driving the news: Five of Pence's aides were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, including his chief of staff, who is currently quarantining. Pence has continued his campaign travel despite his possible exposure, which goes against CDC guidelines.

  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that Pence was putting others at risk by traveling.

The big picture: Barrett's confirmation is not in doubt because Republicans have the votes to confirm her, so Pence's presence would be mostly symbolic — though he would cast a tie-breaking vote if necessary.

What they're saying: “Vice President Pence is campaigning in Minnesota today. The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,” a Pence aide told CNN and Politico in a statement.

  • Pence's office and the White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The other side: "Not only would your presence in the Senate chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of [CDC] guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy," Senate Democrats said in a letter on Sunday.

  • "Your presence alone could be very dangerous to many people — not just senators, but to all the truly essential staff — both Democratic and Republican — who must be physically present inside the U.S. Capitol for it to function."
  • "Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential. You will not need to cast the deciding vote to break a tie. Your presence tomorrow would be purely ceremonial."

Flashback: "As vice president, I'm president of the Senate. And I'm going to be in the chair, because I wouldn't miss that vote for the world," Pence said on Saturday.

  • Aides to Pence said the vice president and his wife both tested negative on Sunday.
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Pence's attendance was "in flux" on Monday morning.

Read the letter.

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote.

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