This week: Senate kicks off Supreme Court fight
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Republicans are ramping up their plan to try to confirm President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE’s third Supreme Court nominee before the Nov. 3 election. 

With Trump announcing on Saturday his intent to nominate circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE, Republicans are set to begin a five-week sprint to work through the paperwork, committee hearing and floor action needed to seat Barrett on the court. 

“If you can look at the in the number of days that are allowed for the hearings, and then the reporting of the judge to the floor in the time it would take the process her on the floor, I think it's certainly possible that we could complete action on this toward the end of October,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden-McConnell cold war unlikely to end at White House Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told Fox News on Monday. 


Both the House and Senate are set to start the work week Tuesday. 

Barrett will begin meeting on Tuesday with top Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Republican governor of Arkansas says 'Trump is dividing our party' MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Lindsey Graham: 'In this fight it is clear — Israel is the good guy and Hamas is the bad' MORE (R-S.C.). She’s also scheduled to meet with GOP members of the Judiciary Committee including Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (Iowa), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Ocasio-Cortez hits Yang over scrapped Eid event: 'Utterly shameful' MORE (Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP governor says Republican Party has to allow for differences Republicans urge probe into Amazon government cloud-computing bid: report Allowing a racist slur against Tim Scott to trend confirms social media's activist bias MORE (Utah).

No Democratic senator has firmly announced, yet, that they will meet with Barrett, though Graham disclosed during a Fox News interview that she had called Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinIf you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. 

The closed-door meetings come as Republicans are set to begin the confirmation hearings for Barrett in less than two weeks, on Oct. 12. The hearings, which Graham’s staff estimated would last three-to-four days, will be followed by a Judiciary Committee vote on Oct. 22. 

Because Republicans have a 12-10 majority on the committee, they will be able to send Barrett’s nomination to the floor without the need for any Democratic support as long as they remain united, setting up a final floor vote on the Senate floor the week of Oct. 26. 

The GOP plan will keep the explosive Supreme Court fight, which gives Republicans the chance to cement a 6-3 conservative majority, in the spotlight up until the election. If confirmed, Republicans will set a record on voting for a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election. Though other nominees have been confirmed in a fewer number of days, those were further away from a presidential election. 


Democrats are powerless to stop Barrett’s nomination on their own, but they can slow it down with procedural roadblocks and have vowed that it will not be “business as usual” in the Senate. They are also planning to home in on the potential impact Barrett’s confirmation could have for health care, including the future of the Affordable Care Act. If Barrett is confirmed before the election, she will be able to take part in a November case that could determine the fate of the Obama-era health care law. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Biden to host Sinema for meeting on infrastructure proposal MORE (D-N.Y.) urged Democrats to remain focused on health care, arguing it was the party’s shot to build opposition to Barrett’s nomination and put pressure on Republicans to potentially oppose her. If Democrats are going to prevent Barrett from being confirmed, they face an uphill battle of winning over four GOP senators. 

“Here is my suggestion for the best strategy for fighting back: health care, health care, health care. Our number one job is to communicate exactly what is at stake for the American people if Republicans jam through this nominee. The elimination of the Affordable Care Act is at the top of the list,” Schumer wrote to his caucus. 

“All the data show that with COVID raging, the number one priority for the American people is health care — its affordability, accessibility and quality. We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue. It gives us the ability to clearly define what is at stake for the American people’s top priority,” he added. 

In addition to health care, some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have indicated they will ask Barrett if she would recuse herself from cases involving the election if it reaches the court. Trump, and some GOP lawmakers, have pointed to the potential need for a litigated outcome if the election is close as a need to have all nine justices on the Supreme Court. 

“One of the things I want to ask her is will she recuse herself in terms of any election issues that come before us, because if she does not recuse herself, I fear that the court will be further delegitimized. In other words, President Trump has said, ‘I will not accept the results of the election unless I win. I'm going to push it to the Supreme Court. And oh, by the way, during the election I'm going to put somebody on the Court as well,’ ” Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerIn honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act Bush testifies before Congress about racist treatment Black birthing people face during childbirth, pregnancy Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (D-N.J.) told “Meet the Press.” 

Coronavirus bill

House Democrats unveiled a slimmed down $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Monday as there is an aim to revitalize talks on a bipartisan measure that can pass both chambers and win the support of the White House ahead of the November election. 

Its introduction comes just days before the House is scheduled to fly out for its October recess, and as swing district Democrats have publicly clamored for some action as the coronavirus keeps the economy on edge with roughly 205,000 Americans dead.

But despite parties having remained at an impasse for months, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE spoke shortly after the scaled-back package was revealed. They have agreed to speak again on Tuesday in an attempt to strike a deal. 

The new package’s price tag comes in at $1.2 trillion less than the initial HEROES Act, which was passed largely along party lines earlier this spring. It faced strong pushback from Republicans over spending levels. The GOP-controlled Senate initially rolled out a $1.1 trillion package, before coming out with a pared down $500 billion bill earlier this month. 

The new House bill includes $436 billion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments struggling from the financial fallout from pandemic; $75 billion for additional testing, another round of direct payments, extending increased unemployment benefits; provides $225 billion for child care and schools; and would authorize additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program among other provisions.

“This $2.2 trillion Heroes Act provides the absolutely needed resources to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy over the coming months,” Pelosi said in a "Dear Colleague" letter Monday. “It includes new funding needed to avert catastrophe for schools, small businesses, restaurants, performance spaces, airline workers and others.”

Pelosi has not said if or when the House will vote on the measure on the floor. But Democratic lawmakers and aides said, barring a last-minute agreement with Mnuchin, they anticipated a vote on the legislation Wednesday or Thursday. 

Government funding

The Senate will go down to the wire with its debate over a stopgap government funding bill. 

The Senate is expected to wrap up work on the bill Wednesday, hours before the current funding runs out. 

The continuing resolution would fund the government through Dec. 11 at current fiscal 2020 levels. Lawmakers and Trump will have to work out later this year if they can get a deal on the 12 fiscal 2021 funding bills, or pass another stopgap bill in December to kick the funding fight into next year. 


The stopgap bill previously passed the House last week, after last-minute haggling over farm aid. The agreement struck between the two parties adds $8 billion in nutrition assistance programs and allows for the farm aid distributed through the Commodity Credit Corporation to continue but with measures sought by Democrats to prohibit payments to fossil fuel refiners and importers.


Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report 'Fox News Sunday' to mark 25 years on air MORE is stepping back into the congressional spotlight this week when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. 

Comey will go before the panel as part of Graham’s months-long investigation into “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s probe into Russia's 2016 election meddling and Trump’s campaign, the subsequent former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s investigation and the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

Comey’s testimony comes after former Deputy Attorneys General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinProtect the police or the First Amendment? Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office MORE and Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult There was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder MORE testified publicly as part of Graham’s investigation. 

Graham, in an interview with Fox News, indicated he would be asking Comey about the so-called Steele dossier, the controversial opposition research into then-candidate Trump. 

“The information we received from [William] Barr and Christopher Wray and — Attorney General Barr and Director Wray — have been very helpful to me to get information out of the system. Durham had the first look at the fact that the primary subsource was suspected by the FBI of being a Russian agent,” Graham said.