Senate Democrats asked Vice President Mike Pence to stay away from the vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett because of his reported exposure to staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pence would serve as the tie-breaking vote should the Senate be deadlocked 50-50 on Barrett’s nomination, but only one Republican has so far said she will vote against the 48-year-oold mother of seven, and Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his leadership team wrote in a letter to Pence that not only would his presence violate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, “it also be a violation of common decency and courtesy.”
Democrats said in the letter that it’s “not a risk worth taking,” according to copy obtained by the Associated Press.
“Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential,” the Democrats wrote, warning that there would be a risk not just to senators but the Capitol police, restaurant workers, and others who work there.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and “a couple of key staff surrounding the vice president” have tested positive for COVID-19.
But the vice president and his wife Karen both tested negative on Sunday, his office said, adding that he will not quarantine.
“While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” Pence press secretary Devin O’Malley said in a statement.
Senate Democrats have tried every trick in the book to thwart ACB’s nomination. None of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee showed up Thursday for the planned committee vote on whether to send her nomination to the full Senate.
The rules say in order to have a quorum, at least two members of the minority party must be present.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Thursday said “to my Democratic colleagues, you had four days of hearings, two days to question the judge. She deserves an up-or-down vote. She did an outstanding job representing herself… She deserves better than this but she will get out of the committee today. I have the votes to get her out of committee.”
Instead of showing up, Democrats on the panel put pictures of people who rely upon the Affordable Care Act in their chairs.
Schumer explained his party’s stance on Wednesday. “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway,” Schumer and the Judiciary Committee Democrats said in a statement announcing the boycott.
Graham waived the rule requiring minority participation and the committee voted unanimously 12-0 to move her nomination forward.