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Sotomayor vote date uncertain

There is little doubt that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed next week. But it’s unclear when it will happen.

Senate Republicans have proposed the idea of a four-day debate on the nominee, with most of their 40 members planning to speak on Sotomayor’s fitness for the court. But Democrats say no more than two days should be necessary — and that other Senate business will be on the chamber’s to-do list as well.

Hanging over the negotiations between Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) is the Senate’s precious deadline of adjourning for its monthlong August recess on or before Friday, Aug. 7. A prolonged schedule on Sotomayor could push that into the weekend, particularly since appropriations bills will also be vying for floor time.

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“I don’t know how Reid does it all and still has time for Sotomayor,” said GOP Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Chief Justice John Roberts was debated for four days on the floor in September 2005, but Justice Samuel Alito — a much more controversial nominee — received five days of debate in January 2006.

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, sidestepped questions about specifics, simply saying that Reid should allow ample time for all Republicans who wish to speak. Sessions said he doesn’t know how many want to speak.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (Tenn.) said the GOP will push for the maximum amount of time because of the gravity of the nomination. Alexander is alone among GOP leaders in his support for Sotomayor — McConnell, Kyl and GOP Policy Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE of South Dakota have all announced their opposition.

“A Supreme Court nomination is an unusual event, and we take it very seriously,” Alexander said. “A great many of our senators wish to speak.”

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Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) said only a minimum of time should be necessary because so many senators have already stated their positions on Sotomayor.

“Everybody knows how they’re going to vote,” Leahy said. “And I would think with the way the Republicans have been throwing out such criticisms of the Hispanic community, they wouldn’t want a lot of time. … Everybody knows how it’s going to come out, so I think everybody wants to get home.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), a former Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking Republican until his switch to the Democratic Party this year, told reporters on Thursday that only two days of debate should be necessary on Sotomayor.