According to a report from Politico, Senate Democrats acknowledge that they don’t have the numbers to keep Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett off the court when the Senate takes up the vote — but that doesn’t mean they won’t be using her controversial nomination to make Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s life a living hell as the election approaches.
With the Republican-controlled Senate poised to rush Barrett’s nomination through with a vote tentatively scheduled prior to the November 3rd election, Politico is reporting that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has his colleagues on-board to “disrupt and obstruct Senate Republicans” with an assortment of procedural maneuvers that will hinder McConnell’s efforts.
Calling her appointment a “power grab,” Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said, “We know that the votes are not there [to block the nominee], but you do what you can to call attention to it.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) agreed, saying, “We can’t do business as usual in a situation that’s so extraordinary where the Republicans are breaking their word to rush a nominee so they can kill the Affordable Care Act. We can’t just say, oh, yeah, that’s normal. Sorry.”
According to the Politico report from Andrew Desiderio, “The goal, senators and aides say, is to highlight what Democrats see as hypocrisy and a blatant abuse of power on the part of McConnell (R-Ky.), who blocked President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016 but is pressing forward with the goal of confirming President Donald Trump’s pick, Amy Coney Barrett, before Election Day.”
The report goes on to reveal that Schumer is expected to invoke the “two-hour rule,” which stops all committee business after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours.
The Democratic senator deployed it on Thursday and “caught senators and aides by surprise, and it caused the cancellation of several important committee hearings — most notably, a closed Senate Intelligence Committee briefing with William Evanina, the nation’s top counterintelligence official, on the subject of election security.”
Additionally, Senate Democrats can drag their feet on other Senate business, with Politico reporting, “The Senate can finish up its work on a bill or a nomination quickly with the agreement of all 100 senators. But that rarely happens, and McConnell and Schumer often spend their days haggling over floor time to reach a consent agreement.”
Schumer used that recently which led Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to complain, “Right now I think they’re just trying to throw a wrench into anything we do. Obviously it’s retribution for the decision on the court and they just want to be difficult. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense to me either to bring everybody back next week when we could finish this today.”
Other procedural tools in the Democrat’s favor is the ability to object to recessing which requires the consent of all 100 senators and using quorum calls as a weapon.
“In order to conduct business, the Senate requires a quorum, or a majority of senators to be present. Any one senator can move to require a quorum call. If just a few Republicans are absent for any reason, Democrats could boycott the quorum call, effectively preventing the Senate from doing business,” the report states before adding that if a senator “disagrees with the presiding officer’s ruling, he or she can appeal it and trigger a roll-call vote, requiring senators to spend time voting on the objection. Democrats could theoretically do several of these in a row, which could stall proceedings for hours, even days.”
You can read more here.
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