Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who tested positive for the coronavirus late last week, said Monday he is prepared to wear a “moon suit” if necessary to cast a vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
“There’s no reason we can’t confirm Justice, or Judge, Barrett,” Johnson said. “Even, quite honestly, if we had to vote electronically. Now, that would be way out there — we’d have to change the rules of the Senate. We may not be able to do that unless everybody’s there. So that’s probably not possible. But we can certainly hold the confirmation hearings electronically.”
He noted that when one visits a medical office, the employees all wear protective gear and take other precautions to do their jobs. The same dynamic should apply to the Senate, Johnson argued.
“If we have to go in and vote — I mean, I’ve already told leadership, I’ll go in in a moon suit,” he said. “We think this is pretty important. I think people can be fairly confident that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is dedicated to holding this vote.”
In the interview, Johnson also said he is feeling “perfectly fine” but is “in total isolation” since testing positive for the coronavirus.
The Wisconsin Republican repeatedly said he is “not downplaying covid,” while at the same time arguing that “there’s a level of unjustifiable hysteria about covid that I think is just unfortunate.” States, for instance, should not have shut down businesses and schools to slow the spread of the disease, he said.
“The press has done such a good job in ingraining in almost everybody’s brain that if you get covid, it’s a death sentence. It’s not,” Johnson said. “Tragically, for a very small slice of the American public, it is very serious. And obviously, the president’s having a pretty serious bout. But with great medical care, hopefully he’ll bounce out of this as well. But the vast majority of Americans probably don’t even know they ever had it.”
Johnson also argued that the United States should have followed the example of Sweden. The country has steered clear of shutting down schools and restaurants but is also seeing a new wave of coronavirus cases, with the state epidemiologist warning last month that it was heading in the “wrong direction” as winter approaches.
“I’ll still say it — I’ll probably get beat up in the press for this — we should have followed the Sweden model,” Johnson said Monday. “Isolate the sick, quarantine them, protect the vulnerable, and allow the rest of society to carry on with life as carefully as possible. You know, be the germaphobes we’ve all become. That makes sense to me. I think long term, we’ll take a look back at Sweden — I don’t think their economy was harmed anywhere near, certainly, as [much] percentage-wise as the American economy or the rest of Europe, and I think they’ll recover a whole lot faster.”
In an exchange last month with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during a Senate hearing, Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the United States, said it was inappropriate to compare the Swedish situation with that of the United States.
Adam Taylor contributed to this report.