Ron Johnson is the third Republican senator to check optimistic for coronavirus in two days


Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.

Toni Sandys | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is the third Republican senator to test positive for Covid-19 after President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he and the first lady had a positive diagnosis. 

Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who attended the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination announcement at the White House last Saturday, have also tested positive for the virus. Both are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is the panel that will hold hearings on her nomination.

It is unclear where Johnson contracted the virus, but he was exposed earlier this week to someone who has since tested positive for the virus, according to his office. 

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Police Use of Force and Community Relations”, in Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2020.

Tom Williams | Reuters

The senators’ diagnoses could potentially affect the Senate’s plan to push Barrett’s confirmation through before the Nov. 3 presidential election. The GOP has a 53-47 edge in the chamber, and two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have said they oppose voting on the nomination before Election Day.

Democrats are calling to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearing, though Republicans have vowed to press forward with the vote. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Judiciary Committee, said on Friday that the hearing will occur on Oct. 12 as planned. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Saturday said the Senate will not return in full until after Oct. 19 due to health concerns, but confirmation hearings for Barrett will remain as scheduled. 

“Since May, the Judiciary Committee has operated flawlessly through a hybrid method that has seen some Senators appear physically at its hearings while other members have participated virtually,” McConnell said in a statement. “The Committee has utilized this format successfully for many months while protecting the health and safety of all involved.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has criticized Republicans for moving forward with the hearing. 

“The decision to recess the Senate for two weeks after at least three Republican Senators have tested positive for COVID-19 makes clear that the Senate cannot proceed with business as usual as the virus continues to run rampant,” Schumer said in a statement on Saturday. “If It’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session it is also too dangerous for committee hearings to continue.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) asks questions to James Comey, Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing to examine the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation in Washington DC., U.S., September 30, 2020.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

The number of people in Trump’s orbit who have tested positive for Covid-19 is growing.

Several people who were at the president’s Supreme Court announcement in the Rose Garden last week have tested positive. Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, and former top aide Kellyanne Conway tested positive on Friday.

Trump was transported to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday “as a precautionary measure” following his coronavirus diagnosis and is expected to remain there for several days.

The president has taken his first dose of Remdesivir, an experimental antiviral therapy. 


Steven Gregory