A wave of uncertainty has rippled throughout the United States following President Donald Trump's personal battle with COVID-19 paired with a climbing count of lawmakers and top White House staff members also testing positive for the virus.
As the global health crisis circles the nation's capital, pressure has been building on congress to sort out a stimulus deal that will reach Midwest Americans and fill the seat left open by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined 44News Anchor Jessica Hartman to talk about concerns surrounding the president's health, COVID-19 testing and protocols practiced by the senator and his office, the next round of coronavirus relief, President Trump's nominee to the United States Supreme Court, and more.
Sen. McConnell says President Trump seems "perfectly normal and back at work," and that he doesn't think the president contracting COVID-19 is impairing his ability to do his job.
"Obviously he's still in the recovery and treatment period, but I don't think it's impairing his ability to do the job," McConnell said. "We were discussing a number of current issues and I think he's gonna be just fine."
According to McConnell, the president testing positive for COVID-19 hasn't changed the protocol in his office.
"We've been operating consistent with the CDC guidelines and the recommendation of our physician since May," McConnell explained. "I don't think the coronavirus is going to in any way impact the Senate's ability to do its work. And we have a big job to do with the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice."
Just before President Trump fully halted negotiations on the next round of COVID-19 relief, Sen. McConnell spoke with 44News about a number of other factors that he says have contributed to the next bill's slow-moving progress.
"We've been kind of going back and forth now for a couple of months," Sen. McConnell said. "The bipartisan spirit we had back in the spring when we passed the CARES Act... seems to have dissipated as we've gotten closer and closer to the election."
"The House Democrats under Speaker Pelosi have been passing a couple of times just massive, massive bills with a lot of things that are irrelevant, in my view, to the coronavirus challenge," McConnell went on to say. "What we think ought to be in there is more help for kids, education, replenishing the PPP loan program... and we need more for healthcare."
With coronavirus cases surging in both Kentucky and around the Tri-State, McConnell stressed the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing until the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine becomes a reality. With that being said, the Kentucky senator says another shutdown won't be necessary.
"Dr. Fauci has indicated another shutdown is not in order," stated McConnell. "What we learned during the shutdown is it produces a whole other set of problems - delayed healthcare, suicides up, spouse abuse up, child abuse up - we're not going to shut down the economy again."
"Shutting down the economy again is not on anybody's agenda, and would not work, and did not work, in my opinion, when we did it before," Sen. McConnell said.
Outside of the pandemic relief efforts, the senator is focused on filling the Supreme Court seat left open by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to be the new high court justice, and according to Sen. McConnell, it's "imperative" to move forward with the process.
"We have a great nominee. The president's picked the single-best person in the country to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is a woman of extraordinary accomplishment," McConnell stated. "She's a terrific nominee with a great life story. I think the American people are going to see that on full display when the hearings begin in the judiciary committee next week."
Sen. McConnell says despite two senators on the judiciary committee testing positive recently, he thinks Monday's hearing will be able to be held safely with no issues. Those who choose to can join the hearing virtually.