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 SchumerTrump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Schumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 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.


Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioIntel officials say Iran, Russia seeking to influence election Senate Intel leaders warn of election systems threats Trump remarks put pressure on Barr 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 KingSusan Collins and the American legacy Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats 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) HassanGOP coronavirus bill blocked as deal remains elusive Hollywood gives Biden's digital campaign final star-studded push Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up 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.”


The decision by Schumer comes at the start of a tumultuous weeks-long battle over President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE’s forthcoming nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Mitt Romney did not vote for Trump in 2020 election The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett MORE’s Supreme Court seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid 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.