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U.S. Senate panel announces October 12 Supreme Court confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Monday that it would open a confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, on Oct. 12, making clear that an outbreak of COVID-19 will not interfere with the schedule.

FILE PHOTO: Judge Amy Coney Barrett meets with United States Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO.), not pictured, at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., October 1, 2020. Demetrius Freeman/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairman, announced that the hearing would start at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on Oct 12.

Opening the Senate on Monday, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the hearing would be in a hybrid format - with some members connecting remotely - because of the coronavirus.

“We are going ahead with the full, thorough and timely confirmation process that Judge Barrett and the court deserve,” McConnell said.

Two committee members, Republicans Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Both were at the White House on Sept. 26 when Trump introduced Barrett as his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month.

Other attendees at that event - many of whom did not wear protective face coverings - have also tested positive.

Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington on Friday hours after he announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Trump was due to return to the White House on Monday.

McConnell also said the Senate would adjourn for two weeks.

Despite the objections of Democrats, who want to wait for the results of the Nov. 3 election before the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, Republicans have been working to confirm Ginsburg’s replacement before voters go to the polls.

After McConnell spoke, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said the Senate should be debating legislation to help Americans struggling with the coronavirus. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and more than 200,000 have died during the pandemic.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis