White House virus outbreak could complicate Supreme Court confirmation

Senate Republicans pledged to plow ahead with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite President Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19 and the potential for an outbreak among their ranks.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Trump announced her as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

© Provided by The LA Times
Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Trump announced her as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the virus the “biggest enemy” standing in the way of confirming Barrett, given the close margin of votes he is working with.


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With two Republicans already opposed to confirming a nominee so close to the November election, McConnell can afford to lose only one more vote on the Senate floor and still confirm Barrett. Because senators must be in the chamber to cast a vote, any absence of a Republican because of illness or necessary quarantine could put the vote tally at risk.

Republicans are “keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our jobs,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. “Every precaution needs to be taken. We don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mind-set.”

Republicans view Barrett’s confirmation as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pull the Supreme Court to the right, one that they are unlikely to allow anything to derail. But it was Barrett’s nomination that could have put lawmakers at risk.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he had tested positive for the virus. He attended the announcement of Barrett’s nomination at the White House Rose Garden Saturday along with Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, the president of the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett used to teach, and White House aide Hope Hicks, all of whom have tested positive.

More than dozen other Senate Republicans attended the packed event. Like most of the crowd, many of the elected officials at the event did not wear a mask.

On Thursday, Lee attended a Judiciary Committee meeting, potentially exposing other members of the panel to the virus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, was expected to get a test, an aide said Friday.

Amid the looming threat, Republicans on the committee are preparing for a pandemic-style, largely virtual confirmation hearing, which is scheduled to get underway Oct. 12.

“We’re on track,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the committee chairman, told reporters in South Carolina on Friday. “We’re in a good spot. She’s going to get confirmed.”

Senate committees have been meeting remotely and members of the Judiciary panel are expected to be able to do so also. Barrett and Graham are expected to be in the committee room, and senators will have the option of questioning remotely, according to a committee aide.

Sanitizing stations will be at every senator’s desk. Seating for staff and press — who typically jam into the room for such high-profile hearings alongside the public — will

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Not all online banks offer wire transfers, can complicate home buying

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  • On the morning I was supposed to close on my first home, I found out that the online bank where I’d saved my down payment didn’t offer outgoing wire transfers.
  • Because I didn’t have access to wires to transfer money instantly, I couldn’t get my cash to the title company that day, and it meant pushing back my closing. 
  • It turns out that my bank isn’t an outlier — many popular online banks don’t offer outgoing wire transfer services, which could be a big problem for home buyers.
  • If you’re using an online bank to save for your down payment, plan ahead. Make sure you can make a wire transfer, or make a plan in advance to move your down payment to a bank that can.
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When I started thinking about buying a home, I opened a high-yield savings account to save for it, and I chose an online bank. 

About a year later, I found the house I was looking for, made an offer on it, had that offer accepted, and set up a date for the closing.

The morning of the planned closing, I intended to wire the money to the title company — a pretty typical part of home buying, and required in my state for an amount of money the size of a down payment. I had the information I needed to send it, and I pulled up my account to get the wire started.

But, I couldn’t find a way to do it on my online bank’s website. After some looking, one line on the bank’s frequently asked questions page stopped both me and my closing agent in our tracks: ‘Outgoing wire transfers are not available.’

I called the bank, but the only other solutions took days

I’d never even thought about needing to make a wire transfer before my home purchase. I didn’t think I needed to look in advance to make sure the bank offered them, either —I just assumed all banks did. But, you know what they say about assumptions. 

I was panicked. I called the customer service line. One representative said the best he could do would be to mail me a paper check. This was Wednesday, and the earliest that check would arrive would be Saturday. It would mean pushing my closing until the next week, and moving my move-in date to the next weekend. There had to be a better way. 

Another call to the online bank later in the day had me talking to a different customer service representative; he had another idea. He could increase my daily transfer limits to $20,000, the set up ACH transfers to move the full balance to my checking account over three

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