October 29, 2020

Klobuchar denies claims that Democrats are using Senate coronavirus outbreak to delay SCOTUS confirmation hearing

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  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar pushed back against Fox News host Chris Wallace’s question that Democrats are going to “use” the coronavirus outbreak among Republicans to delay the SCOTUS hearing. 
  • When asked why the hearing could not happen virtually, Klobuchar stressed that “this is for the highest court of the land.”
  • The Senate has conducted hearings virtually during the pandemic on a number of occasions, although video conferencing has not come without problems for lawmakers. 
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In an interview with  Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar pushed back on suggestions that Democrats are trying to “use” the coronavirus outbreak among key Republican senators as a reason to delay the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Wallace asked Klobuchar “are democrats going to try to use this as a way to delay the confirmation hearing and the confirmation vote on Judge Barett?”

“It’s not a matter of using it, Chris, it happened,” Klobuchar said. 

Republican senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, who are both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have tested positive for the coronavirus. The two were present at the Rose Garden event where the president, who announced his diagnosis of coronavirus on early Friday, announced his nomination of Barrett for the Supreme Court. The two senators are both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have denounced the idea of moving forward with the hearings given the outbreak. Meanwhile, while the Senate has gone into recess until Oct. 19 in wake of three Republican lawmakers testing positive for coronavirus, Senate Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham are adamant about proceeding with Barrett’s hearings in the intended date of Oct. 12. 

“There were a number of other ones that were at the Rose Garden, they have a lunch together where they don’t have masks,” Klobuchar said of GOP lawmakers. “It’s very possible that we’re going to have more senators, more staff, so I don’t know why you would ram through the Supreme Court hearing, put people in danger, because it would be within that two week period while you have shut down the whole Senate.”

“Why can’t you question Judge Barrett virtually?” Wallace pressed.

Klobuchar said that while she “doesn’t mean the virtual option wouldn’t be available,” she believed an in-person hearing was important for a hearing for “the highest court of the land.”  

The Senate has held hearings virtually during the pandemic, including when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But the virtual Senate hearing was not without its problems: Delaware Democratic Senator Tom Carper was heard cursing when he thought he was on mute while trying to figure out the videoconferencing system.