Senate

Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will boycott Thursday’s committee vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.

The plan comes as the 10 Democratic senators on the panel have been discussing how to protest the GOP plan to confirm Barrett next week to the seat held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Democrats on the committee said in a joint statement that the push to confirm Barrett was a “sham process” and accused Republicans of breaking “the promises and rules” established by refusing to give Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, a hearing or a vote.

“Fearing a loss at the ballot box, Republicans are showing that they do not care about the rules or what the American people want, but are concerned only with raw political power,” they said.

“We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway,” they added.

Democrats, instead, are expected to hold two press conferences on Thursday.

Under Judiciary Committee rules, 12 members have to be present in order to report a nomination to the floor — a requirement Republicans can meet on their own if every GOP senator is present.

But the rules also require two members of the minority party to be present in order to transact business.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned reporters on Wednesday that he will hold a vote on the nomination — previously scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday — regardless of whether Democratic senators show up.

Graham, in a statement on Wednesday evening, pledged that Barrett “deserves a vote and she will receive a vote.” 

“As to my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to attend the markup, that is a choice they are making. I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down,” Graham added. 

Democrats have been under fierce pressure from progressive activists to use Barrett’s confirmation process to drive home the stakes of the fight — that her confirmation will lock in a 6-3 conservative majority — and make it clear that they aren’t treating the GOP process as business as usual.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, came under scrutiny last week when she thanked Graham for how he ran the four-day hearing on Barrett’s nomination and was spotted giving him a hug.

But progressives have also taken issue with the general demeanor from Democrats during the hearing, pointing to polls that show support for confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court as evidence that their strategy missed the mark.

“Support for Barrett has risen eighteen points among *Democrats,* a clear sign that the hearings were a failure and a net gain for Barrett, McConnell and Republicans. Democrats signaled business as usual and lent legitimacy to an illegitimate process,” Adam Jentleson, a staffer for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), tweeted Wednesday

Despite the boycott, Republicans are expected to hold a rare weekend session to pave the way for a final confirmation vote on Barrett’s nomination on Monday.

McConnell has pledged that he will tee up Barrett’s nomination on Friday, which sets up an initial procedural hurdle on Sunday. An additional 30 hours of debate is still allowed, which could push a final vote until Monday evening or night.

Barrett needs a simple majority to be confirmed, meaning if all senators are present, she could lose three GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) is the only Republican senator who has said she will oppose Barrett because she does not believe her nomination should be brought up before the Nov. 3 election.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has also said that she does not believe a nominee should get a vote before the election. She has not said how she will vote on Barrett, with whom she is meeting with this week.

—Updated at 6:58 p.m.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Charles Schumer Dianne Feinstein Harry Reid Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Merrick Garland Ruth Bader Ginsburg Susan Collins

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