Schumer: Democrats will boycott vote on Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Vows not to "supply quorum" for votes on Amy Coney Barrett

Updated: October 12, 2020 - 5:57pm

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats will not "supply quorum" for votes on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, effectively declaring that they'll boycott the process in an attempt to stall her confirmation.

The New York Democrat made the statement Sunday about the quorum, which is a minimum number of senators needed for a vote. In the full Senate, the quorum is 51 members, and, for the chamber's Judiciary Committee, a quorum is nine members including two in the minority Democratic party.

"We will talk about when the actual vote occurs in committee and on the floor," Schumer said in a press conference. "Democrats will not supply the quorum. Period."

Schumer's declaration means that if one or fewer Democrats turn up for the scheduled Oct. 22 vote for Barrett, the Judiciary Committee cannot move the nomination to the full Senate. The move would likely have no effect in the full Senate, where there are 53 Republicans.

But there are several ways around the move, Fox News reported:

"Most notably, the Senate can vote on a discharge resolution that would remove the responsibility of considering the Barrett nomination from the committee, allowing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call the nomination for a full vote. The committee itself could also change its rules to get rid of the requirement that two Democrats be present, James Wallner, a senior resident fellow for governance at the R Street Institute told Fox News."

Democrats are just trying to delay the process — but at the cost of the Democrats' own leverage, Wallner told the network the network's Tyler Olson: 

"'The key for Democrats is to make Republicans' doing so as painful as possible,' Wallner said about the move to force Republicans to change the committee rules, as well as other procedural moves they could try. 'Schumer’s announcement that Democrats have already decided not to attend a committee markup lessens any leverage Democrats can hope to gain in the larger debate by forcing Republicans to change the rules to get Barrett to the floor.'"

The Senate minority leader's delaying tactics come after Sen. Ted Cruz predicted exactly that. The Texas Republican said Sunday that Democrats will pull some "shenanigans" in an effort to delay Barrett's confirmation hearing, which got underway on Monday.

Apppearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cruz said, "I hope we don't see Senate Democrats turning it into a political circus."

"I think we're going to see, by the way, some more procedural games and shenanigans," he said. "I don't know what they're going to do, whether it's try to boycott meetings or try to impeach the president."

"I think they are looking for anything to delay things even a day or two or three," Cruz said, adding, "we've managed to have hearings for months."

But the senator said Senate Republicans will "follow the guidance, the medical guidance of the Capitol physician and we'll go through — we've managed to have hearings for months in a way that has been safe and has protected everyone's safety. We do it socially distanced, we do it following medical guidance, and we'll continue following the medical guidance."

Cruz also said: "I believe we have the votes, and I believe Judge Barrett on the merits is going to be confirmed and confirmed by the end of the month before Election Day."

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