Senate Majority Leader McConnell says Transparent “Stalling Tactics” Won’t Block Judge Barrett’s Hearings

Editor’s note.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Monday on the Senate floor regarding COVID-19, the Senate schedule, and the Supreme Court: 

The Senate has spent the last few days like all Americans have: Praying for quick healing and a smooth recovery for President Trump and the First Lady following their positive COVID-19 tests.

I spoke to the President by phone twice this past weekend. Both times, his spirits were high. Both times, we talked about the people’s business: Our nation’s fight against this pandemic; his exceptional nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett; and our efforts to continue rebuilding the economy for working families.

We’re also thinking of our friends and colleagues, the senior Senator for Utah, the senior Senator for Wisconsin, and the junior Senator for North Carolina, who are currently working from home.

The standard cliché would say these past few days have provided a stark reminder of the danger of this terrible virus. 

But the truth is that our nation did not need any such reminder.

More than 209,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives.

Millions have battled illness or had their lives disrupted by positive tests.

This past weekend, my home state of Kentucky just recorded its highest-ever one-day total for new cases.

We all need to remain vigilant. We all need to remain careful. …

Now, in just a moment, I will move to withdraw the pending cloture petitions and recess the Senate with pro forma meetings until two weeks from today.

Members will receive at least 24 hours’ notice if any votes on urgent matters are scheduled before October 19th. That would take bipartisan consent. Otherwise the full Senate will next meet on October 19th.

Obviously, the people’s business does not come to a halt in the absence of votes on the floor.

The important work of our committees will go forward as each committee sees fit.

Chairman Graham has already announced the Judiciary Committee will meet as planned on October 12th to begin considering Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

We are full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, and timely confirmation process that Judge Barrett, the Court, and the nation deserve.

The Chairman has indicated the Committee will use the same hybrid format — with some participants appearing in person and others appearing over video — that it has successfully used for more than 20 prior hearings this year.

Let me say that again. The Judiciary Committee alone has held more than 20 hybrid hearings since the start of this pandemic.

Many of these saw multiple Senators participating via videoconference. Some of them saw nominees participating by videoconference.

At times, the Democratic members of the Committee have gone out of their way to praise this technology and the Chairman’s flexibility with this format.

Across all our committees, we’ve had 150 hybrid hearings since the pandemic began. The Senate has used this format no fewer than 150 times.

We have continued performing our constitutional duties while protecting health and safety during the pandemic.

Our Democratic colleagues have largely welcomed this approach and they have frequently taken advantage of it.

So whatever mix proves to be the right decision at this time next week, it will be completely consistent with the Committee’s own precedent, and with the ways committees across the Senate have adapted and done their work throughout this pandemic.

Our whole society is using these tools.

Earlier today the Supreme Court itself resumed conducting oral arguments via teleconference, as it has done since the spring.

The Senate has been using these processes for months. Just yesterday, the ranking member of the Rules Committee reminded the country that she helped set them up.

It is nonsense for Senate Democrats to turn on a dime and now pretend these procedures are no longer workable.

It is nonsense to suggest that the tools that Senate Democrats have been happily using across all our committees for months have suddenly gone bad overnight.

Nobody is taking these disingenuous tactics at face value.

Because the Democrats have told everyone, out loud, about their real intentions.

For weeks now, numerous Senate Democrats have publicly promised they would try every trick in the book, every maneuver available, to obstruct and delay a fair confirmation process.

Weeks ago, the junior Senator for Hawaii [Mazie Hirono ]pledged: ‘I will look for every procedural tool that I can find to make sure that this does not happen.’

Weeks ago, the senior Senator for Massachusetts [Elizabeth Warren]: ‘We 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, our friend from Illinois [Dick Durbin] , has said, ‘we [will] use whatever tools we have available’ to ‘slow things down.’

“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.’

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.

We have months of experience governing this way while protecting health and safety within the Senate.

This body will not cease to function just because Democrats are afraid they may lose a vote.

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.

I look forward to seeing Judge Barrett’s brilliance and qualifications on full display starting one week from today.