Operation Get Barrett to the Supreme Court

Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY
·6 min read

We're T-minus 12 days until Election Day and Republicans have voted to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. And somewhere in Nashville, two presidential candidates and a mute button are readying themselves for a fierce debate.

It's Ashley with the day's biggest news.

But first, this 100-year-old just voted in her 15th election: Mabel Cook is older than the right to vote. Here’s her advice ahead of the election — plus her favorite presidents.

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The Senate could confirm Amy Coney Barrett next week

All 12 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination Thursday, clearing the way for the full Senate to vote on her confirmation Monday. No one opposed the nomination, but there’s a reason: Democrats boycotted the hearing entirely (drama!), hoping to stall the process by withholding a quorum. Instead, Democrats held a press conference Thursday morning and placed pictures of people they said were beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act on their chairs in the committee meeting room.

Barrett’s confirmation is still not across the finish line: The full Senate plans to vote on her confirmation to the Supreme Court on Monday, likely allowing Barrett to take her place as the ninth justice just days before Election Day.

Presidential debate mic check 1, 2, 1, 2

*Tap, tap, tap.* Is this mic on? It won't be for our presidential candidates at some points during tonight's presidential debate — the last chance for President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden to flex on undecided Americans in hopes of winning their vote. What do we expect from the final debate, just 12 days before Election Day? Despite the introduction of a mic mute button, we expect another contentious debate at Belmont University in Nashville, which will be moderated by NBC's Kristen Welker. Both candidates have lingering questions to answer, from the president's tax records to the former vice president's stance on expanding the Supreme Court. For Trump, it's his last chance to shake up a race he's trailing in.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in September at Case Western University in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in September at Case Western University in Cleveland.

What everyone’s talking about

A COVID-19 vaccine can't come fast enough

Science is making incredible progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna hit a crucial milestone in its progress toward winning approval its vaccine, announcing Thursday that it has secured all 30,000 participants for its Phase 3 study, more than a third of whom are people of color. So when could we get our hands on a vaccine? In general, scientists and public health experts say a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved at the earliest by December, but that doesn't mean it will be widely available to most Americans. The federal government is developing a distribution plan that would get the vaccine to certain populations first, such as essential workers, those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the elderly. See what USA TODAY's expert panel has to say.

Give it to me straight: The U.S. has reported more than 8.3 million cases and 222,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The global totals: 41 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle on March 16, 2020.
A subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle on March 16, 2020.

I'm proud of you, voters

For the first time in election history, more people are expected to vote early than on Election Day. With less than two weeks until the election, voter turnout nationally is already nearing 30% of the overall 138.8 million people who voted four years ago. If voters on Election Day turn out as expected, the U.S. could have the highest percentage of eligible voters actually vote since 1908, experts say.

What I'm not proud of? Iran and Russia allegedly tried to undermine the 2020 election. U.S. authorities are blaming Iranian hackers for threatening emails claiming to be linked to the far-right, authoritarian group Proud Boys that were sent to voters in some states. The emails threatened to "come after" voters who didn’t vote for Trump. The director of national intelligence said Wednesday that voter registration information had been obtained by Iran and by Russia in an attempt to to interfere with the election.

Real quick

He posed as a doctor. In reality, he was an accused child molester

David Menna said he was a doctor. An avid outdoorsman. Someone parents could trust. Boy Scouts and Young Marines bought his story, too. Accused of sexual abuse by multiple young men in two states, Menna used his outdoor skills and connections in youth organizations to gain access to children, and his story shows how easily an accused predator can bounce from one youth organization to another, dazzling parents and boys. Like Menna, these alleged predators may never have appeared on any sex offender registry. Today, if Menna volunteered to lead a camping trip for children, his record would still look clean.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amy Coney Barrett, Trump, Biden, presidential debate: Thursday's news