Republicans blast Sotomayor confirmation schedule

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and ranking Judiciary Committee member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) took to the Senate floor late Tuesday to blast the schedule laid out for Senate confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

All three Republican leaders said Democrats decided the schedule "unilaterally," without consulting the GOP, and that they did not learn of the dates until informed through media reports. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) earlier Tuesday announced July 13 confirmation hearings and an Aug. 6 Senate vote.

McConnell and Kyl had been uncertain of their position just two hours earlier, telling reporters they were "unsure" about whether such a schedule allowed sufficient time for scrutiny.

On the Senate floor, however, Sessions said the schedule was "too early," and McConnell issued a veiled threat that the GOP may abandon efforts at cooperation.

"The Democratic majority is proceeding, in my view, in a heavy-handed fashion, completely unnecessarily, and is basically being dismissive of the minority's legitimate concerns for a fair and thorough process," McConnell said. "Because of what our Democratic colleagues are doing and the way they are doing it, it will now be much more difficult to achieve the kind of comity and cooperation on this and other matters."

- J. Taylor Rushing