Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up

Senate Democrats are limiting the ability to hold committee hearings in retaliation for Republicans' decision to try to fill a Supreme Court seat in the middle of an election year, the first action in what is likely to be an increasingly combative battle over procedure in the Senate.

A Democratic aide confirmed that Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) had invoked the so-called two hour rule, which can be used to limit the ability to hold committee hearings after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours. 

The ability to hold committee hearings is routinely granted with little fanfare on the Senate floor. The Senate came in at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, meaning Democratic cooperation was needed for committees to meet after noon.

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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBreak glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships MORE (R-Fla.) tried to get an exception on Tuesday afternoon for the Senate Intelligence Committee to be able to meet at 2:30 p.m. with the director of national counterintelligence, where they were expected to discuss election security. 

But Schumer also objected to that.

“Because the Senate Republicans have no respect for the institution, we won’t have business as usual here in the Senate,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

The tactic appeared to catch some senators off guard. Sen. Angus KingAngus KingNew Senate bill would hurt charities and those they serve Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (I-Maine) was heading toward the Senate Intelligence Committee meeting before a staffer noted it had been canceled for Tuesday.

Laura Epstein, a spokeswoman for Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 Trump says he'd like to see Chris Sununu challenge Hassan Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  MORE (D-N.H.), who had been scheduled to hold a subcommittee hearing, added that Hassan “was not aware of the Senate Minority Leader’s plans to block committee hearings this afternoon and is extremely frustrated that today’s hearing on defending state and local entities from cyber threats amid COVID-19 will have to be rescheduled.”

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The decision by Schumer comes at the start of a tumultuous weeks-long battle over President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE’s forthcoming nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol Supreme Court's approval rating dips to 49 percent  Anti-abortion movement eyes its holy grail MORE’s Supreme Court seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-Ky.) appears to have locked in support within his caucus to move a nominee this year, though he hasn’t said if he will force a vote before the Nov. 3 election.

Maggie Miller contributed. Updated at 3:22 p.m.