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 McConnellPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAfter healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook Dem senator 'not inclined to filibuster' Gorsuch This obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all 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 SessionsPerez: Trump ‘trying to bully law enforcement’ over sanctuary cities Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities Cheech Marin hopes Trump voters 'starting to realize their mistake' 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 AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule Trump's Labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing 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 ThuneThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat Lawmakers want infrastructure funded by offshore tax reform Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline 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 LeahyPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Regulation: Trump repeals 'blacklisting' rule Senators call for pay equity for US women's hockey team 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.