McConnell: Plan is to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court pick before election
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday night that he expects Republicans will confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election.
“That’s the plan and there’s nothing I can see that would keep that from happening,” McConnell said during a Fox News interview when asked if Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be confirmed to the Supreme Court before Nov. 3.
McConnell has repeatedly hinted that he would bring up Barrett’s nomination for a vote before the election, including saying last week that he would take it up as soon as it comes out the Judiciary Committee. Under Graham’s timeline, that would pave the way for a final vote on the Senate floor for the final week of October.
But he’s also previously been cagey about saying directly that he would hold a vote before the election, even as several of his members, the White House and strategists involved in the court fight have said they expect that to be the chamber’s timeline.
McConnell’s decision to say the Senate will take up Barrett’s nomination before the election comes as an outbreak of the coronavirus has injected fresh doubt into the GOP’s aggressive timeline for confirming Trump’s pick to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Three GOP senators—Thom Tillis (N.C), Mike Lee (Utah) and Ron Johnson (Wis.)—have tested positive for the coronavirus. An additional three GOP senators—Ben Sasse (Neb.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and James Lankford (Okla.)—have tested negative but are self-quarantining after being around their colleagues.
Underscoring how the coronavirus could impact the party’s SCOTUS plan, four of those six Republicans are on the Judiciary Committee. Republicans have a 12-10 majority on the panel, and are likely to need all of their members present for an Oct. 22 committee vote on Barrett’s nomination.
Under the panel’s rules, to send a nomination to the floor, a majority of the committee has to be present. Democrats are not expected to help them meet the quorum requirement if a Republican senator is expected to be absent.
McConnell, during the Fox News interview, defended how the Senate has handled the coronavirus, saying that it could “operate successfully in a COVID environment.”
“The current members that have a problem, got it somewhere else, not here in the Senate,” McConnell added.