A second Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has tested positive for the coronavirus, potentially complicating the confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis announced Friday night that he has tested positive, hours after Utah Sen. Mike Lee had confirmed he had been infected, as well, following Trump’s own positive test.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,” Tillis said in a statement.
Both Tillis and Lee were in attendance at the Rose Garden ceremony Saturday where Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to fill the Supreme court vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Lee, like many at the Saturday ceremony, was pictured without a facemask and in close proximity to others.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the hearing process for Supreme Court nominees, had planned to begin Barrett’s confirmation process Oct. 12 under a schedule set forth by committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The committee features 12 Republican and 10 Democratic members. But the infections of Tillis and Lee means both could miss the hearings if they conduct 14-day quarantines as recommended by federal guidelines.
Tillis said that he’s currently asymptomatic, while Lee said he had minor symptoms similar to allergies. Barrett, who has been meeting with senators all week, has tested negative for the virus.
But Lee announced he planned to quarantine for ten days, which would run right up to the start of Barrett’s hearings.
“I have spoken with Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham,” Lee said in a statement, “and assured them I’d be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the committee and then to the full Senate.”
Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to hold off on their plans to rush through Barrett’s confirmation before the election.
“We now have two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have tested positive for COVID, and there may be more. I wish my colleagues well,” Schumer tweeted.
“It is irresponsible and dangerous to move forward with a hearing, and there is absolutely no good reason to do so.”