GOP turns back Schumer motion to shut down Senate in protest of Barrett confirmation effort
Republicans on Monday night stalled a move by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to close down the Senate until after the presidential election as the body’s top Democrat continues to protest the effort to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the end of the month.
The vote on a motion to adjourn, forced by Schumer, D-N.Y., followed another roll call vote in which Schumer forced the Senate to consider the Trump administration’s softening of a banking regulation regarding low-income borrowers. Republicans expect more such procedural roadblocks from Schumer as the Senate gets closer to confirming Barrett, likely early-to-mid-next week.
“Because our Republican colleagues have made such a mockery of the Supreme Court confirmation process, we are not going to have business as usual here in the Senate,” Schumer said Monday. “Tonight I will move to bring up a vote under the Congressional Review Act and force Action on a resolution to undo the Trump administration’s gutting … of the Community Reinvestment Act.”
That vote failed 43-48 along party lines. Schumer then motioned to adjourn the Senate until after the presidential election. After he was told his motion was out of order, he appealed that ruling and then motioned to table his own appeal, essentially putting up a motion in opposition of his own effort to close down the Senate, but making senators go on the record on the issue in the process.
“This is the most rushed… most partisan, least legitimate Supreme Court nomination process in our nation’s history — in our nation’s entire history — and it should not proceed. Therefore, I will move to adjourn the Senate until after Nov. 3 election, with the ability to come back into session if there is a bipartisan agreement on a COVID relief package,” Schumer said.
The motion succeeded 48-42, meaning that Republicans blocked Schumer’s effort to shut down the Senate until after the presidential election.
But this is not the first time Schumer has essentially taken over the Senate floor as Democrats try to fight the Barrett confirmation. Earlier this month he forced a vote on a measure that would ban the Justice Department from arguing against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it currently plans to when a case against it comes before the Supreme Court on Nov. 10.
His “cloture” motion on that failed 51-43 — it needed 60 votes to pass — but succeeded in getting six moderate or electorally vulnerable Republican senators to back it, underscoring that some Republicans are in fact feeling the pressure of Democrats’ constant rhetoric — which may not necessarily be accurate — that Barrett is a grave threat to the ACA.
Those were Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.
Schumer has also invoked the rarely-used “two-hour rule,” which governs when committees can meet when the Senate is in session, at one point preventing the Senate Intelligence Committee from meeting in what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called a “temper tantrum.”
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett demonstrated that she has the deep legal expertise, dispassionate judicial temperament, and sheer intellectual horsepower that the American people deserve to have on their Supreme Court,” McConnell said Monday. “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. I’ll be proud to vote to confirm this exceptional jurist.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote to report Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate on Thursday — potentially amid Democratic boycotts, Schumer has said Democrats will not provide a quorum for that vote — which would then tee up the final confirmation vote for some time next week, depending on when McConnell schedules the vote.
McConnell has said that he will bring the nomination to the floor on Friday, which would allow the Senate to take a procedural cloture vote on the nomination as early as Sunday and potentially take a final confirmation vote as early as Monday, though the final vote could also happen Tuesday or later.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., predicted last week on “Sunday Morning Futures” that Barrett would be confirmed no later than the Tuesday before the presidential election, which would be Oct. 27. Barring multiple unexpected defections or a coronavirus outbreak within their caucus, Republicans almost certainly have the votes to confirm Barrett. But nothing is a done deal until the final vote to confirm Barrett is closed.
“This legislative process and the confirmation process, it’s adverbial. It’s something that unfolds. And that means it changes as people act and react to one another,” R Street Institute senior fellow for governance James Wallner told Fox News in a previous interview about the Barrett nomination. “I think it all depends on if the Democrats are willing to use the different procedural tools they have at their disposal as leverage to try to somehow change the narrative.”