By ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who attended the White House Rose Garden event two weekends ago now tied to at least 14 coronavirus cases, on Thursday defended her decision not to wear a mask at the event.
During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, said that while the event is a good reminder to Americans to take precautions, she was tested right before the event and behaved safely.
“I had been tested right before I went to the event I had my mask on and actually had it there on my arm when i walked into the event,” Blackburn said. “I took it off to walk into the event but you know it’s a great reminder to us wash your hands, wear gloves if you need, be certain you are using sanitizer.
Blackburn, who said she has since tested negative for coronavirus, was at the White House during the event to witness Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Blackburn is a member, are set to begin on Monday.
She has been an outspoken supporter of the GOP effort to swiftly fill the seat left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Blackburn has tweeted and said publicly that she believes the Senate must fulfill its constitutional duty to act quickly, and she’s lined up behind President Trump’s pick.
But following the positive coronavirus tests of two Republican senators on the committee who attended the Rose Garden event, Democrats, who have consistently argued that the Senate should wait to confirm a new justice until after the next president is selected, have also argued that holding the hearings now is a safety concern.
Still, on “The View,” Blackburn said that the committee is “going to start those hearings” in the coming days.
Moving a nominee swiftly through the committee and onto the Senate floor has been a top priority for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The confirmation process laid out by McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham would allow Barrett’s nomination to be voted on before Election Day. If confirmed, Barrett would a conservative majority on the high court.
Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence during Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate, warn that if Joe Biden wins the White House in November and Democrats obtain a Senate majority, that Biden and vice presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris may move to add additional justices to the court.
Harris did not specifically answer questions about this during the debate, something Blackburn took issue with.
“She didn’t want to talk about court packing,” Blackburn told the program’s hosts. “She chose to punt that and that really was kind of a surprise to me. I thought she would be more definitive on that she is on the Senate Judiciary hearing.”
Blackburn applauded Pence for using the debate to expose “some of the areas where Sen. Harris didn’t want to go.” And, she said she’d like to see Trump debate Biden again even after the president said Thursday morning he would not participate in a second debate if it occurred remotely.
“I would love to see the president debate agin because he has a great record of accomplishment to defend,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn said a second debate would give the president more time to tout his record on the economy, deregulation and safety and security.
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