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McConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday teed up Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Gorsuch, Thomas join liberal justices in siding with criminal defendant MORE's Supreme Court nomination, paving the way for a rare weekend session roughly a week before the November election.

McConnell's move sets up a vote to end debate on Barrett's nomination for Sunday, with a final vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court expected by early Monday evening.

The Senate is expected to be in session on both Saturday and Sunday debating Barrett's nomination, though her confirmation is guaranteed absent an unlikely last-minute surprise.

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Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Ex-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters on Thursday that there were negotiations ongoing between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIt's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas MORE (D-N.Y.) about if senators would have to be physically in the Capitol all weekend, with some senators indicating they wanted to go back to their home states on at least Saturday.

"It’s mixed. There’s some who want to get home for political reasons. And there’s some who want to stay hell or high water. It’s the usual situation. Let me tell you, the whole caucus takes this very seriously, whatever the final decision is we’re going to stick together," Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters about the schedule.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph Thune'The era of bipartisanship is over': Senate hits rough patch Bipartisan talks sow division among Democrats Senate passes long-delayed China bill MORE (R-S.D.), Durbin's counterpart, indicated that whether senators are stuck in town on Saturday is largely up to Democrats, adding that "whenever they decide what they want to do, which votes they want to trigger."

"Our members are prepared to be here through the weekend to, you know, defeat any votes that they want to bring up," Thune said.

Guidance from McConnell's office on Friday morning indicated that there was "expected procedural harassment" from Democrats, who have been forcing votes on the Senate floor this week, and that reporters "should prepare for a long weekend."

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The votes on Barrett's nomination will come roughly a month after President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE announced his intention to nominate her to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgOcasio-Cortez says Breyer should retire from Supreme Court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Juan Williams: Time for Justice Breyer to go MORE during a Rose Garden ceremony on Sept. 26. Ginsburg's death kicked off an explosive fight over the future of the Supreme Court.

Republicans, when they confirm Barrett, will set a new record for the closest to a presidential election a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed.

It comes four years after they denied a hearing or a vote to Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandMedia leaders to meet with Garland to discuss leak investigations Garland sparks anger with willingness to side with Trump Garland vows fight against voting limits that violate law MORE, then-President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, though Republicans argue the fact that they now control both the Senate and the White House is a significant difference.

Despite the closeness of the election, and the significance of the seat, there were few surprises in Barrett's nomination, with Republicans quickly rallying behind McConnell's plan to give her a vote.

Democrats have protested the GOP plan, including forcing votes to gum up the Senate floor and boycotting the Judiciary Committee vote on her nomination on Thursday.

But they've also acknowledged that absent GOP help they are unable to stop Barrett from being confirmed, which would lock in a 6-3 conservative court.

Because Republicans hold a 53-47 seat majority in the Senate, Barrett can lose three GOP senators if all Democratic senators vote no and still be confirmed by letting Vice President Pence break a tie.

Only Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Collins says infrastructure bill won't have gas tax increase or undo 2017 tax reform bill What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship MORE (R-Maine) has said she will oppose Barrett because she does not believe the Senate should vote on a nominee before the Nov. 3 election.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill MORE (R-Alaska) has also said she does not believe the Senate should take up a nominee before the election, but hasn't said how she will vote on Barrett.

Murkowski met with Trump's nominee this week, a one-on-one that she used to discuss Alaska-related issues and Barrett's legal philosophy.

“I’ve shared for a while that I didn’t think we should be taking this up until after the election and I haven’t changed," Murkowski told a reporter on Capitol Hill after the meeting.

Asked if she was saying she would vote no on Barrett's nomination, Murkowski added, "That means I haven’t changed my mind on that."

A spokesperson for Murkowski said on Thursday that the moderate GOP senator has not publicly stated how she will vote for Barrett.

“Early on I announced my preference that the Senate not take up a Supreme Court nomination this close to a presidential election, applying the same standard I used in 2016, but the process moved forward and we are now just days away from a vote to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," Murkowski said in a statement.

"Whether to confirm the nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a decision each Senator has to make on their own. I appreciated the opportunity to have a lengthy discussion with Judge Barrett, just as I met with Judge Garland in 2016," Murkowski added.