If you do not know this in advance, the last 72 hours when it comes to mechanics, you know nothing about the diagnosis and future of what will happen in Congress this month.
It includes Amy Connie Barrett’s confirmation before Election Day. The last-minute procedural hurdles faced by Chuck Schumer, a master political strategist like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or a New York Democrat minority leader, cannot control what happens in days and weeks.
More than 209,000 Americans have died from the virus and seven million Americans have been infected with it, the number of cases in congressional halls is very low, meeting for lunch, hearing meetings and flying back and there is less risk than ever before.
But the coronavirus has entered the halls of Congress and no one can predict the impact of the virus in the next 30 days. It was always the same. Right now, we can’t pretend to ignore it.
The fear and danger of the virus is so real that on Saturday, the McConnell Senate announced that it would suspend ground activity for the next two weeks. That means votes will not be cast this week or later. And aside from a few brief pro pharma sessions, legislators will not be on the floor.
How strategic it is about security. McConnell could only lose the votes of three Republican senators and still be pushed by the Supreme Court nominee, and there is no risk of exposing his members to an unpredictable and relentless virus in the coming weeks.
In a letter to CNN’s Manu King over the weekend, McConnell wrote, “The Senate will go into the Pro Pharma session until October 19. On that day, all Republican senators must be back to health to make sure we have the quorum.”
That brings us to the judiciary
Until then the ground action will be suspended, and the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet in the week of October 12 for Barrett’s confirmation inquiries.
This has provoked outrage from Democrats who argue that it is too risky to meet for a judicial committee hearing if it is not very safe to meet for normal business. It has now also started a logistic headache for the staff – in addition to preparing for the Supreme Court nomination hearing within 16 days of Barrett’s nomination – they also need to prepare for the trial as Kovid-19 has infiltrated the Capitol.
According to deputies, members, staff, Democratic and Republican staff are having conversations about how the nominee and her deputies will be protected. Excess seating for members, limit on the number of staff and expect to see very few spectators in the room.
Typically, these trials run throughout the day. They are intense with staff running in and out of the room to assist their employers and to help navigate the complex histories of the nominee’s writings and case decisions. But they are also usually packaged. The size of the room, maintaining the number of attendees and deciding whether or not to test everyone in advance are all decisions currently under discussion. According to aides, Democrats are desperately trying for the test everyone in the room needs.
Two members of the judiciary who detected the virus – Republican Sense. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina are in good health.
The most important date to circle on the calendar is October 15. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham needs a quorum to vote. The committee consists of 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. If the quorum is needed, Graham needs at least one of the two to return – Lee or Tillis. The fear is that if both are out, Democrats could boycott and keep Graham out of the quorum. This would delay the nomination process and jeopardize the chances of Barrett being confirmed by the full Senate before Election Day.
Testing at the Capitol
If you have been looking at Capitol for the past six months, you may see intermittent calls for the Senate and House to combine a plan for extensive and systematic examinations at the Capitol Complex.
But the calls are getting louder and louder, as aides and members fly in planes from every corner of the country every week over the lack of a testing regiment in Capitol Hill.
Blunt called Capital a “petri dish” and he was right. The losses – as shown over the past several days – are great and those losses will not only affect members of Congress. The Capitol has hundreds of staff, maintenance, cleaning and restaurant workers.
The examination regimen will benefit all of them.