Cruz on confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: ‘We have the votes’
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) predicted on Tuesday that Republicans will have the votes to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, even as a coronavirus outbreak in GOP circles has cast new doubt on the party’s ambitious timeline.
“I’m very confident. I believe we have the votes. I believe we’ll get it done,” Cruz said during a Washington Post Live interview. “As I see it, we have a solid 51 votes right now. And from the conversations in the conference, I don’t see that changing.”
Cruz’s remarks are the latest sign that Republicans are preparing to plow forward, even as three GOP senators have tested positive for the coronavirus and another three GOP senators, including Cruz, have tested negative but are self-isolating. One of the senators who tested positive said he was willing to come to the Senate in a “moon suit” to help confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Underscoring the risk the coronavirus poses to the GOP’s timeline, four of those six senators are on the Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for holding a hearing on Barrett and sending her nomination to the full Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to start its hearing on Monday and run through Oct. 15. That will include a day of opening statements, two days of questions and a final day for outside experts.
“I want you to understand we’re going to start hearings Oct. 12, safely,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Monday night.
Though Graham and Barrett are expected to attend the hearings in person, senators are being given the option to question Barrett remotely.
Graham has said the panel will vote on Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 22. Democrats, according to an aide, will force Republicans to show they have the majority needed for a quorum, setting up a hard date for when Republicans will need all of their members on the panel back.
Republicans are aiming to confirm Barrett before Election Day on Nov. 3.
Cruz, during his Washington Post interview, noted that he asked Graham during a closed-door meeting of Judiciary Committee Republicans about why he wasn’t starting the hearing sooner.
“Procedurally, what I think is critical is that the Senate confirm Judge Barrett before Election Day. … So I wanted to make sure that we would have sufficient timing to get the confirmation completed before Election Day. All of the parliamentary experts we talked to felt confident that no matter what shenanigans [Democrats] pulled that we would have sufficient time to get the job done by Election Day,” Cruz said.
Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), based on timelines from their offices, both anticipate being back in the Senate in time for a committee vote on Barrett’s nomination. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who is self-isolating but has tested negative, has said he will return on Monday.
Cruz said he would be attending virtually during the first two days of the hearing next week, before switching to attending in person. The Texas Republican was not at the White House event late last month where Trump announced Barrett as his Supreme Court pick. Tillis, Lee and Sasse were all in attendance.
Cruz said he hadn’t asked Lee where he believes he contracted the virus. Cruz, however, called the number of cases stemming from individuals at the White House event “disturbing,” adding that it “‘certainly suggests people caught it there.”