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 McConnellMitch McConnellSenators roll out changes to criminal justice bill Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll Senate Dems block spending bill over Iran amendment — again MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Energy: Senate energy spending bill fails — again Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika Senate Dems block spending bill over Iran amendment — again 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 SessionsJeff SessionsGOP warms to Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report Donald Trump snags endorsements from two GOP chairmen 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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderDemocrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico pressure builds; Big tariff vote Wednesday Senate votes to increase wind energy funding 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 ThuneGOP blasts Obama for slow economic growth Overnight Tech: Business data deals on FCC agenda Overnight Tech: Email privacy bill gets its day 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 LeahySenate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote House unanimously passes email privacy bill This week: Congress on track to miss Puerto Rico deadline 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.