The Senate’s Democratic leadership has told Vice President Mike Pence not to preside over Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation vote to the Supreme Court after his chief of staff and four other top aides tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“Not only would your presence in the Senate Chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy,” Senate Democrats said in a letter. “Your presence alone could be very dangerous to many people – not just Senators, but to all the truly essential staff – both Democratic and Republican – who must be physically present inside the U.S. Capitol for it to function. These men and women are the Capitol Police officers, the custodians, the food service workers, the floor staff, and everyone else that makes the Capitol complex work. On their behalf, please reconsider your decision to attend tomorrow’s vote.”
The Vice President has said he would not quarantine after being exposed. The White House, in a statement, said Pence is “essential” and would stick to his campaign schedule with just days to go until the general election. Democrats addressed that as well.
“Nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential. You will not need to cast the deciding vote to break a tie. Your presence tomorrow would be purely ceremonial,” they write. “We believe that if you and President Trump finally began to take this crisis seriously, instead of taking actions that could further increase the spread, we would all be safer and better off. We appreciate your consideration of our request.”
The letter was signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray, (D-WA), Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Vice Chair of the Conference Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Vice Chair of the Conference Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Chair of Steering Committee Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chair of Outreach Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
You can read the letter in its entirety HERE.
Update: Pence claims that he tested negative this morning, but the White House uses an Abbott instant testing system with a 48% false negative rate.
VP Mike Pence and Karen Pence were tested for COVID-19 this morning (Monday) and tested negative, per spokesperson Devin O’Malley.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) October 26, 2020
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.