Mike Pence expected to miss Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation vote over coronavirus fears

The vice president’s vote would only be needed as a tie-breaker if Republicans didn’t hold a majority in the Senate 

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 26 October 2020 17:11
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Mike Pence is expected to skip attending the confirmation vote of Amy Coney Barrett amid fears his presence on Capitol Hill would risk spreading coronavirus, according to reports.

Although Mr Pence tested negative on Monday, a group of Democrats urged the vice president not to preside over the chamber after five people who he works with tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Pence’s aides confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday that he would not preside over the confirmation, a mostly symbolic role given Republicans have the votes to confirm Ms Barrett. He is only needed to cast a tie-breaking vote if necessary.

“Vice president Pence is campaigning in Minnesota today. The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The confirmation vote is expected to take place on Monday evening, and Mr Pence would be back in Washington in time for the vote should he need to cast the tie-breaker.  

Republicans hold a 53-to-47 advantage in the Senate and only one has said she would opposed the nomination of Ms Barrett.

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer wrote that the presence of Mr Pence would violate coronavirus guidelines and would “be a violation of common decency and courtesy” given his proximity to people who have texted positive.  

“Your presence alone could be very dangerous to many people — not just to senators, but to all the truly essential staff — Democratic and Republican — who must be physically present inside the U.S. Capitol for it to function,” the letter said.

While Mr Pence is planning on skipping the confirmation vote, Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler plans to attend despite two of her aides testing positive.

In a statement on Saturday, Ms Loeffler’s officer said the Republican tested negative after two of her staff tested positive.

"Senator Loeffler is more energized than ever to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice on Monday before returning home and travelling the state to meet with hardworking Georgians,” the statement said.

In a tweet on Monday morning, Ms Loeffler confirmed she would attend the vote.

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