Senate

Republicans advance Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote

Greg Nash

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to advance Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycotted the vote.

The panel voted 12-0 to send Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate, paving the way for President Trump’s nominee to be confirmed to the Supreme Court early next week. Every Republican on the panel supported her nomination and no Democratic senator voted. 

Every GOP senator was present for the vote, meeting the committee’s rule that 12 members of the panel must be present to report a nomination to the full Senate. 

But the committee also requires two members of the minority party to be present in order to conduct business. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), however, made it clear that he would move forward regardless of the committee’s rules. 

“As you know, our Democratic colleagues informed the committee last night that they will not participate in the hearing. That was their choice. It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee. We’re not going to allow them to take over the committee,” Graham said on Thursday. 

Instead of attending the hearing, Democrats put large posters around their seats of individuals they talked about during last week’s hearing who would be negatively affected if the Supreme Court, with Barrett confirmed to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, strikes down the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats announced on Wednesday that they would boycott the hearing, calling it a “sham” process. 

Shortly after the committee’s vote, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and nine of the 10 Democrats on the panel held a press conference on the Senate steps outside of the Capitol.

“Republicans have given us no choice. We are boycotting the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett,” Schumer said, adding that her confirmation has been the “most rushed, most partisan, least legitimate attempt” that will have “dire consequences.”

“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee,” he added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Schumer’s No. 2 and a member of the committee, argued that Republicans shouldn’t fill the seat because “the American people should have the last word in filling this Supreme Court vacancy.”

“They will have last word on November 3rd,” he added. “The efforts by Senator McConnell to ignore this pandemic and to move forward with this nomination are inconsistent with the basic principles of this country and that’s why members of the committee decided in mass not to participate.”

Democrats had been under pressure to step up their efforts in the fight over Barrett’s nomination, after activists warned that the tactics by the caucus during last week’s four-day hearing missed the mark.

As they were speaking, dozens of protesters were gathered nearby, their yells at times drowning out the senators or making it difficult to hear them, even over a microphone.

Most of the protesters largely appeared to agree with Democrats that Barrett shouldn’t be confirmed, with roughly a dozen wearing “Handmaid’s Tale”-style red habits. When Sen. Mazie Horono (D-Hawaii) stepped up to the mic, one protester could be heard yelling, “it’s Mazie time.”

But underscoring the frustration with how Democrats have handled the fight over Barrett, a group of protesters yelled that they were “letting it happen,” referring to Barrett’s likely confirmation, and “you haven’t done shit!”

Schumer floated during an MSNBC interview on Wednesday night that Democrats could try to challenge the decision on the Senate floor, but as long as Republicans had 51 votes they could shoot down their objection.

GOP aides say Graham’s decision to move forward without Democrats present was in line with the Senate’s standing rules and had happened previously.

Barrett’s nomination is largely on a glide path because Supreme Court nominees only need a simple majority. She can lose up to three GOP senators and still be confirmed by letting Vice President Pence break a tie. 

There’s no indication that Pence will be needed. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) is the only Republican senator who has said she will oppose Barrett because she does not believe a nominee should get a vote before the election after Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland, then-President Obama’s final nominee, a hearing or a vote in 2016. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has also said she does not believe a vote should happen before the election. She has not said how she will vote on Barrett, who she is expected to meet with this week. 

Thursday’s committee vote paves the way for Senate Republicans to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to tee up Barrett’s nomination on Friday, setting up a procedural vote on her nomination on Sunday. 

After that, Barrett’s nomination will still face up to an additional 30 hours of debate. 

But McConnell vowed this week that Republicans would confirm Barrett on Monday.

“With regard to the Supreme Court justice … we’ll be voting to confirm justice-to-be Barrett next Monday,” McConnell said during a weekly press conference

—Updated at 11:48 a.m.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court nomination Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Ruth Bader Ginsburg Senate Judiciary Committee Susan Collins

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