Graham lays groundwork for committee vote on Supreme Court pick

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is laying the groundwork for the panel to vote later this month on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.  

On Monday, as the panel began Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Graham formally scheduled a committee meeting for Thursday, where her nomination will be on the agenda. 

The committee won’t actually vote on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday, but the move to place Barrett on the agenda for the first time this week will allow Graham to meet his stated timeline of holding a committee vote the following Thursday, Oct. 22. 

Under committee rules, any senator can request that a nomination be held over for a week the first time it is on the agenda. Democrats are expected to request that Barrett’s nomination be held over, and Graham has said he will honor that request. 

“My goal is to complete that Wednesday at some kind of reasonable hour in the evening. Thursday we’ll begin the markup. I intend to hold it over and bring the committee back on the 22nd to vote on the nomination,” Graham said on Monday during the first day of the committee’s hearing on Barrett’s nomination. 

Democrats quickly blasted Graham for putting Barrett’s nomination on the agenda for the first time before the four-day hearing interviewing her had even wrapped up. 

The 22-member panel and Barrett gave their opening statements on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday will be dedicated to senators questioning Barrett, and Thursday will be testimony from outside experts. 

According to the Judiciary Committee schedule, both the business meeting where Barrett’s nomination will be on the agenda for the first time and the fourth day of her hearing are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Thursday. 

Democrats have warned they will not provide Republicans with the quorum when the committee considers her nomination. Under committee rules in order to transact business, two members of the minority party need to be there, though Democrats have warned that even if they boycott, Graham could try to waive the rules. On Oct. 22, a majority of the committee will also need to be present to sent Barrett’s nomination to the floor. 

A spokesperson for Graham confirmed that the business meeting will take place before Thursday’s hearing starts.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, called Graham’s timeline “unprecedented in my time on the committee.” 

“It’s another example of Republicans ignoring rules and tradition so they can rush this nominee through before the election — and in time to supply a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we should hold off on filling Justice Ginsburg’s seat until after the inauguration.”

Compared to Barrett, Justice Brett Kavanaugh had nearly a week between the final day of his hearing, a Friday, and the first time his nomination was on the committee’s agenda, the following Thursday. The timeline for Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s first nominee, was shorter, with his hearing wrapping on a Thursday and his nomination on the agenda for the first time the following Monday. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the schedule shows that Graham “considers this process to be an illegitimate sham.” 

“Republicans continue to ignore norms and break promises in an effort to jam through a nominee who puts critical health care protections for 130 million Americans at risk,” Schumer said. 

Democrats hammered Republicans on Monday over health care, arguing that Barrett, if she’s confirmed, could vote to strike down ObamaCare in a case set to be heard by the Supreme Court a week after the election. 

Court watchers say that even if the GOP challengers convince the justices that the health requirement provision is now illegal, they may face difficulty convincing the court to strike down the law in its entirety. Instead, the court could opt to simply remove the so-called individual mandate that makes the purchase of coverage compulsory while preserving the rest of the law.

—John Kruzel contributed. Updated at 7:04 p.m.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination hearing Barrett confirmation hearing Barrett hearing Brett Kavanaugh Charles Schumer Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Neil Gorsuch Senate Judiciary Committee

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