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‘Not normal’: Mitch McConnell keeps Senate in session over weekend to shut down debate on Amy Coney Barrett

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Screengrab)

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is keeping the U.S. Senate in session over the weekend in an effort to speedily shut down debate on Amy Coney Barrett and set the stage for the right-wing judge’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as early as Monday, just eight days before the November presidential election.

The rare weekend session—something McConnell would not hold to work on desperately needed coronavirus relief—is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday after the Kentucky Republican filed cloture for Barrett’s dark money-backed nomination Friday afternoon. A procedural vote to end debate on Barrett’s nomination is set to take place Sunday, teeing up a Monday confirmation vote that is expected to fall largely along party lines.

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“This is not normal,” tweeted Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, one of the many civil rights groups opposed to Barrett’s confirmation. “McConnell is keeping the Senate in session all weekend to rush through Barrett nomination while 52 million people have already voted and as the American people are struggling amid the pandemic. Prioritizing power over people.”

McConnell’s moves paving the way for a final vote on Barrett came just a day after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved President Donald Trump’s high court nominee during a Thursday hearing boycotted by Democrats. Like much of the process that preceded it, the vote Thursday violated committee rules requiring the presence of at least two members of the minority party.

“Republicans just voted Amy Coney Barrett out of committee with no Democrats present. This is further proof that the entire process is an illegitimate sham,” Meagan Hatcher Mays, director of democracy policy at advocacy group Indivisible, said in a statement following the vote.

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“This nominee refused to say whether or not climate change is real,” Mays continued. “She refused to say whether abortion is constitutional. She refused to say whether the ACA is the law of the land. She wouldn’t even say whether or not the president can unilaterally change the date of the election. (He can’t.) Amy Coney Barrett is an extremist who has no business replacing RBG, and has no business serving on the Supreme Court at all.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that “by rushing this nomination through the Senate only eight days before a national election, after 50 million Americans have already voted, the Republican majority is steering the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the country in a very dangerous direction.”

Schumer proceeded to force the Senate into a closed-door session without cameras or members of the press present in order to “talk face to face about what this might mean for the country.” Republicans emerged from the brief session completely undeterred from plowing ahead Barrett’s confirmation just ahead of the election.

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“As you likely figured out, this didn’t work,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Republicans had no interest in working this out in order to save the Senate. So after a 30 minute break at a crappy rest stop, we are back on the McConnell superhighway to the destruction of the Senate.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) echoed Murphy, saying that while he can’t discuss what specifically was said during the closed session, “you can tell from how briefly we were in there that my GOP colleagues are hellbent on ramming through this nomination even if it means torching Senate’s traditions, rules, and integrity.”

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“Those who care about our country are in anguish,” Merkley added. “SCOTUS being corrupted and delegitimized before our eyes. Senate just voted to proceed on Barrett, and McConnell immediately moved to close debate. So much for coverage for preexisting conditions.”


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