World Events

McConnell vows ‘full steam ahead’ on Barrett nomination

White House spokesperson Judd Deere said Barrett has not met with the president since she was unveiled as Trump’s nominee during a Rose Garden ceremony last Saturday, adding that Barrett has been following guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barrett spent the week on Capitol Hill meeting with senators ahead of her confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 12. A Republican aide said that as of Friday morning, there was no change to the schedule.

The Judiciary Committee is slated to approve Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 22, and Republican senators are eager to hold a confirmation vote on the floor before the Nov. 3 election.

McConnell also told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier Friday that he has yet to choose a date for the vote but that Democrats will be unable to delay Barrett’s confirmation.

“Our biggest enemy, obviously, is what we were talking about at the beginning of the interview — the coronavirus, keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our job,” he said.

McConnell added that portions of Barrett’s confirmation hearings are likely to be conducted remotely, telling Hewitt that he was not yet sure whether senators who met with Barrett and the White House officials had contracted the virus. Later Friday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced he had tested positive, though the Judiciary Committee member said he’d be back in time to advance Barrett’s nomination.

“It can sneak up on you as it did with the president and the first lady. So we’re keeping an eye on everyone,” McConnell said.

Barrett met with 30 Republican senators from Tuesday to Thursday, and was in close proximity with top White House officials including chief of staff Mark Meadows, counsel Pat Cipollone and Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence and his wife, Karen, tested negative for the virus on Friday morning, the vice president’s spokesperson said.

Meadows on Friday said the president has “mild” symptoms but is “very energetic” and in good spirits.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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