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 McConnellGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees McConnell hits back at 'ridiculous' Chinaperson remark GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed MORE (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees Harry Reid: ‘The less we talk about impeachment, the better off we are’ Lobbying world 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 SessionsSessions defends Trump’s power to pardon without consulting Justice Dept GOP senator: 'We were there' on immigration before talks got derailed Sessions defends census citizenship question as 'common sense' 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 AlexanderGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees The student loan crisis: Congress and the private sector must go all in, now Senate Health panel approves opioid bill 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 ThuneRepublicans want Trump’s VA nominee to withdraw Senators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing House, Senate GOP compete for cash 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 LeahyCongress should build on the momentum from spending bill Overnight Tech: Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers over data scandal | What we learned from marathon hearing | Facebook hit with class action lawsuit | Twitter endorses political ad disclosure bill | Uber buys bike share Overnight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg faces grilling in marathon hearing | What we learned from Facebook chief | Dems press Ryan to help get Russia hacking records | Top Trump security adviser resigning 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.