Politics & Policy

Sen. Thom Tillis Says He Expects to Return to Capitol for Supreme Court Vote after Coronavirus Diagnosis

Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.,) asks a question during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., June 16, 2020. (Tom Williams/Reuters)

Senator Thom Tillis, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week, said Tuesday that he expects to be cleared to return to the Capitol soon to vote on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination.

“My guess is I will join virtually for the first day or two, and then I should be cleared for the vote later in the week,” Tillis said Tuesday morning during an interview on Fox News.

“I feel great … I feel very blessed,” the North Carolina Republican said, adding that he experienced “minor symptoms” on Saturday morning but no longer has symptoms. His doctors are “very pleased” with his results, and his vital signs are “above average,” Tillis said.

Tillis announced Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus after GOP Senator Mike Lee of Utah also tested positive. A day later, Senator Ron Johnson became the third Republican senator to test positive in recent weeks, just as the Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to begin the confirmation hearings on October 12.

On Tuesday, Tillis said he is “on a path to being cleared and be back in the Capitol for the hearings,” which he predicted will likely be “a combination” of virtual and in-person proceedings.

The senator added that he anticipates the questions from Democrats to Barrett will be “every bit as bad” as they were during the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“We’re not going to give them a pass on it,” Tillis said. “What they’re really trying to do is keep an opening so they confirm a liberal activist judge.”

“This is theater to shift the attention away from a highly qualified judge who is going to get confirmed to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called last week for the hearings on Barrett’s nomination to be postponed to allow Barrett and senators who were potentially exposed to the virus to be tested and isolate.

“They won’t even meet with the candidate, but now they want to see all of us in person,” Tillis said of Senate Democrats.

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