“Where there is a will there is a way,” Ron Johnson said

By Sean Neumann
October 06, 2020 04:10 PM
Advertisement
Sen. Ron Johnson
| Credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

A Wisconsin senator who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) says he would still show up to the Senate in person if he has to — even in a “moon suit” — to vote for President Donald Trump's latest Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett.

"If we have to go in and vote, I have already told leadership: I'll go in a moon suit," Ron Johnson, a Republican, told 630 KHOW in Denver on Monday.

The senator would do so “making sure that everybody was safe,” he said.

Johnson, 65, is one of three Republican senators who tested positive for COVID-19 late last week, as news broke of more and more Republicans, White House and Trump staffers contracting the virus along with the president.

While noting Trump's own "pretty serious bout" with the respiratory illness, Johnson said Monday that he feels "totally normal."

On Tuesday, he tweeted that he was "still feeling fine" and has exhibited "no symptoms."

"Who knows. This is a crazy disease. It is impossible to really predict," he told KHOW, "but right now I feel perfectly fine."

Sen. Ron Johnson
| Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah also both tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend.

Both Republican lawmakers announced their diagnosis after having attended a Sept. 26 nomination ceremony at the White House for Barrett, where Trump formally introduced the judge as his pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month.

The event is widely seen as the likely source — or at least common link — for a growing list infections, including Trump, Tillis, Lee, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and others.

At least eight people tested positive for COVID-19 at the crowded event, according to The New York Times. Most of those who attended were seen not wearing masks, while some were photographed hugging and kissing each other "hello."

Johnson was not present at the Rose Garden event, and it's unclear where the Wisconsin Republican may have contracted the coronavirus.

Sen. Ron Johnson (left) shakes President Donald Trump's hand on May 30, 2018, while Vice President Mike Pence looks on.
| Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty

Tillis, 60, and Lee, 49, both serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hear arguments next week for and against nominating Barrett.

Democratic lawmakers continue to insist hearings on Barrett's nomination must be delayed — though, as Johnson indicated this week, Republicans backing Barrett are focused her nomination in the final weeks of the presidential election.

That timing also fueled widespread criticism given that Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's final Supreme Court nomination in 2016, saying it was too close to that year's election. (Republicans, in turn, say they meant that applies only when the presidency is held by a different party and that they were elected for just such a situation as a vacancy.)

Calls to delay the vote were amplified after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would go on hiatus until Oct. 19 — aside from the Supreme Court committee hearings still set to begin next Monday.

"If it’s too dangerous to have the Senate in session, it's too dangerous for committee hearings," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Republicans in the Senate have said the Judiciary Committee can allow participation by video for lawmakers who remain ill during the Barrett hearings. Senators can also vote by proxy.

Johnson said this week he's determined to vote on the president’s nominee, sick or not.

“Where there is a will there is a way,” he said. “We can do these things."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.