Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Supreme Court confirmation vote on Monday evening for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s third nominee to the nation’s high court since he took office in 2017.
Politico reports that Pence will keep to his campaign schedule, which has taken him to Minnesota and doesn’t plan to return to Washington, D.C., for the vote. “The VP is not planning to be at the Senate tonight unless his vote is needed,” an aide to Pence told the news agency. CNN has also reported an identical quote and attributed it to a Pence aide.
Only one Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, is expected to vote “no” on Barrett’s nomination, meaning that Pence would not need to attend the vote in order to serve as a tie-breaker and give the nominee the final nudge needed for confirmation.
Two days ago, the vice president told supporters at a campaign rally in Tallahassee, Florida, that he planned to attend the vote, an event he wouldn’t miss “for the world.”
“The senate’s going to finish their work on Monday, and as vice president, I’m president of the Senate. And I’m gonna be in the chair because I wouldn’t miss that vote for the world,” said Pence. “And I’ll make you a prediction. Come this Monday night, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to be Justice Amy Coney Barrett. We’re gonna fill that seat.”
Since the Saturday rally, however, Press Secretary Devin O’Malley has released a statement saying that Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, has tested positive for coronavirus and that Pence is considered a “close contact” to him.
“While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” said O’Malley.
According to The Wall Street Journal, at least four other aides who work with the vice president have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days. “People familiar with the matter” told the Journal that Marty Obst, an advisor to Pence, is one of those who has tested positive for coronavirus, and “one person familiar with the matter” pointed to three others who have tested positive, which would bring the combined total to five.
A White House official told CNN that both Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday.
During a procedural vote on Sunday, Senate Republicans — with the exception of Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — moved to end debate on Barrett’s confirmation, setting the stage for the final confirmation vote on Monday evening.
“The Senate just voted to advance one of the most qualified nominees in generations. Judge Barrett’s intellectual brilliance, integrity, and commitment to impartiality are above reproach. Tomorrow, we will vote to confirm the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” tweeted McConnell on Sunday.
The Senate just voted to advance one of the most qualified nominees in generations. Judge Barrett’s intellectual brilliance, integrity, and commitment to impartiality are above reproach.
Tomorrow, we will vote to confirm the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 25, 2020
Despite voting against moving the nomination forward, Murkowski has indicated that she will ultimately vote “yes” on Barrett so as not to hold her opinions about not wanting to hold the vote against a qualified nominee.
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