Reid won't set August deadline for SCOTUS vote

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow Dems can’t ‘Bork’ Kavanaugh, and have only themselves to blame Dem senator: Confidential documents would 'strongly bolster' argument against Kavanaugh's nomination MORE (D-Nev.) on Tuesday declined to set an August deadline for a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, a possible bow to Republican demands for more time to scrutinize her record.

Midway through Sotomayor’s daylong series of courtesy calls on Democratic and Republican Senate leaders, Reid noted that the Senate will be juggling a massive package of healthcare legislation in June and July. The Obama administration is pushing for a Sotomayor vote before the August recess, but GOP leaders have been issuing constant complaints that they want more time.

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Reid said he will consult with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAmnesty International calls to halt Kavanaugh nomination Kamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal Dem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying MORE (D-Vt.) but would not guarantee a vote before August.

“We’re going to do this as quickly as we can. I don’t want to set any arbitrary deadlines,” Reid said. “I think Sen. Leahy would agree with me that arbitrary deadlines, in a situation like this, really can wind up causing a lot of problems, because unusual things can occur.”

Reid said he is “hopeful” that the healthcare legislation will be marked up by the Finance and Health committees this month, with a full Senate vote in July.

The majority leader would not describe his own private visit with Sotomayor on Tuesday morning, but did say they did not discuss a controversial remark she once made about the judicial ability of Latinas. Critics have seized on the remark as evidence of her unfitness for the high court. Reid also said he has not read any of Sotomayor’s judicial opinions and has no plans to, although he is confident the Judiciary Committee will undertake a full review.

Senate Democrats discussed healthcare reform in their caucus lunch on Tuesday, and 24 of them are scheduled to visit the White House later in the day on the same issue. No Republicans are scheduled to attend.

Reid also said Tuesday he is confident that competing bills being developed by Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) will be merged smoothly.

“There seems to be real unity between the two committees,” Reid said. “Yes, I think we can merge them.”

Reid conceded that funding the legislation will be the most difficult question to answer, and that all ideas — including tax increases — will be considered.