Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday after McConnell moved to temporarily halt Senate activity — but still allow Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to proceed.
What did McConnell do?
After three Republican senators tested positive for COVID-19 — Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Thom Tillis (N.C.), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) — McConnell announced Saturday that he intends "obtain a consent agreement for the Senate to meet in pro forma sessions for the next two weeks."
If the Senate halts activity, McConnell said Barrett's confirmation process would not be affected. McConnell explained:
The important work of the Senate's committees can and will continue as each committee sees fit. The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene on October 12th as Chairman Graham has scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court. The Senate's floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out by Chairman Graham.
Since May, the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually. The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved. Certainly all Republican members of the committee will participate in these important hearings.
According to The Hill, Democrats can object to McConnell's motion. However, it's not yet clear how Democrats will respond given the number of COVID-19 infections circulating on Capitol Hill.
How did Schumer respond?
Schumer fumed in a statement that Republicans are "turning an illegitimate process into a reckless and dangerous one" by moving full-steam ahead on Barrett's confirmation.
"The decision to recess the Senate for two weeks after at least three Republican Senators have tested positive for COVID-19 makes clear that the Senate cannot proceed with business as usual as the virus continues to run rampant," Schumer said. "If it's too dangerous to have the Senate in session, it is also too dangerous for committee hearings to continue."
"Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham's monomaniacal drive to confirm Judge Barrett at all costs needlessly threatens the health and safety of Senators, staff, and all those who work in the Capitol complex," he continued. "Their decision to move 'full steam ahead' with a Supreme Court nominee who could take away the healthcare of 20 million Americans a month before Election Day is turning an illegitimate process into a reckless and dangerous one."
.@SenSchumer hits Republicans for moving forward with Amy Coney Barrett nomination while Senate recesses followin… https://t.co/RAWQPR6eJB— John Bresnahan (@John Bresnahan) 1601746049.0
Schumer's statement echoed one that he released Friday with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he used COVID-19 as yet another excuse for why Barrett's confirmation process should be delayed.