Mitch McConnell gave a speech in the Senate earlier today to discuss the Republican majority’s plans to move forward with holding virtual confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett despite stall tactics from Democrats like Chuck Schumer.
As per the norm, no games were played as the Senate Majority Leader reminded his colleagues just how often virtual Senate meetings and hearings had been held since the start of the Wuhan virus outbreak. “The Judiciary Committee alone has held more than 20 hybrid hearings since the start of this pandemic,” McConnell said, pointing out that “multiple Senators” and nominees had appeared via videoconference.
McConnell also stated that “across all our committees, we’ve had 150 hybrid hearings since the pandemic began.” Senate Democrats, he also noted, “have largely welcomed this approach and they have frequently taken advantage of it.”
He also talked about how the Supreme Court itself “resumed conducting oral arguments via teleconference” today, which they’ve done since spring.
So if the Senate can conduct virtual meetings and hearings and question nominees via virtual appearances, and if even the Supreme Court is utilizing the practice, then why aren’t these same Democrats on board with using the same process to hold confirmation hearings for President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee?
McConnell answered the question by quoting a number of Senate Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Schumer who have gone on record in recent weeks admitting they will use every tool in their arsenal to delay or stop the confirmation hearings for Judge Barrett:
Weeks ago, the junior Senator for Hawaii [Mazie Hirono] pledged: ‘I will look for every procedural tool that I can to make sure this does not happen.’
Weeks ago, the senior Senator for Massachusetts [Elizabeth Warren]: ‘We will need to use every tool. We need to think seriously about everything we can do to try to slow this down.’
The number-two Democratic Senator [Dick Durbin], our friend from Illinois, has said, ‘We will use whatever tools we have available’ to ‘slow things down.’
When he got to Schumer, McConnell zinged him by pointing out that he “gave the game away” during a Sunday presser when he made a similar declaration just moments after declaring holding in-person hearings (which is not being proposed) is too dangerous at this time:
Just yesterday, in the very same press conference where the Democratic Leader [Chuck Schumer] claimed that his latest calls to delay the hearings were rooted in health and safety concerns, he gave the game away just moments later.
In that same press conference, he admitted, quote, ‘We will use every tool in the toolbox to delay.’ So, so much about health and safety concerns.
Our Democratic colleagues have admitted out loud what all these stalling tactics are about. Senate Democrats have openly admitted they are grasping at straws to block this exceedingly well-qualified nominee from receiving a fair and prompt process.
He concluded by reminding colleagues that Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham “has all the options and procedures he needs to supervise a fair, thorough, and hopefully dignified confirmation hearing next week. And that’s just what is going to happen.”
“Nobody is taking these disingenuous tactics at face value.” – Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell
Republicans are also pointing to these comments from Schumer back in March touting the use of teleconferencing to conduct Senate business:
McConnell has not said specifically whether he plans to try and schedule Judge Barrett’s confirmation vote before the election, but the look he gave last week to a reporter who asked the question makes me think that’s exactly what he’s going to try to do.
In fact, he dropped hints just a few days ago that doing so was the plan.
As they say, stay tuned…