Senate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court
Republicans are eyeing a final vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, Oct. 26, roughly a week before elections.
GOP senators and aides stressed the timeline wasn’t locked down — cooperation from Democrats, for example, could speed things up — but they are planning a rare weekend session that would set up a final vote for as soon as early next week.
Under the current plan, Barrett’s nomination is expected to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, allowing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to start lining up the procedural hurdles on Friday.
“I look forward to the Judiciary Committee’s vote on Thursday. The full Senate will turn to Judge Barrett’s nomination as soon as it comes out of committee,” McConnell said from the Senate floor, indicating that he would move quickly once Barrett’s nomination is out of committee.
Under the Senate’s rules, that would allow for a procedural vote on Barrett’s nomination as soon as Sunday.
Top GOP senators indicated on Monday that they expect they will have to be in session on Sunday to hold a vote to wind down debate over Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. Barrett would need a simple majority to overcome the roadblock.
“I’m hearing it’s likely,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) about the potential for a Sunday session to hold an initial vote on Barrett’s nomination.
Asked if he expected the Senate to be in session on Sunday, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) added that it was “very possible.”
Two sources noted the Sunday vote could possibly take place around 1 p.m. Republicans are anticipating that Democrats are eyeing the use of any procedural options to slow down Barrett’s nomination and gum up the Senate floor.
After Sunday’s vote, Barrett’s nomination would still face an additional 30 hours of debate. That would allow for a final vote to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court as soon as Oct. 26.
Republicans appear confident they will have the votes to put Barrett on the court, setting a new record for the closest to a presidential election a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed. Though other judicial nominees have been confirmed in a fewer number of days, they were further away from Election Day.
Because Republicans hold 53 seats, Barrett could lose three GOP senators and still be confirmed by letting Vice President Pence break a tie. If Pence is needed, it will be the first time a vice president has had to weigh in on a Senate Supreme Court confirmation vote.
Only GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has said she will oppose Barrett because she does not believe a nominee should be considered before the election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has said she does not believe a nominee should be taken up, but hasn’t said how she will vote on Barrett’s nomination.
Democrats acknowledge that absent additional GOP senators coming out against Barrett — something they say is unlikely — they are largely powerless to stop Republicans from putting her on the court.
Barrett was nominated by President Trump on Sept. 26 to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett, if she’s confirmed, is expected to lock in a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court for decades. An analysis from The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog found that a third Supreme Court justice from Trump would make it the most conservative court since 1950.
Democrats are under pressure to use any procedural lever they have to slow down or throw sand into the GOP plan to quickly confirm Barrett. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to get Barrett onto the court so she can take part in a case on Nov. 10 expected to determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats also pushed her to recuse herself from any cases involving the Nov. 3 election, something she has so far refused to do.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried unsuccessfully Monday to adjourn the Senate until Nov. 9, but Republicans blocked the effort.
“This is the most rushed, most partisan, least legitimate Supreme Court nomination process in our nation’s history … and it should not proceed,” Schumer said.