Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) returned to his efforts to roadblock Senate business Wednesday, derailing Republican efforts to vote on a scaled-back coronavirus relief bill and bring the agenda to a screeching halt ahead of the November presidential election.
Schumer is looking to use procedural tricks to delay a vote on judge Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court — a vote that looks all but certain to succeed and is now scheduled for Monday, despite Democrats’ complaints.
Earlier this week, Schumer pledged to force the Senate to adjourn until mid-November, after the presidential election, holding a midnight vote to send the body out of session. Republicans blocked the effort on a party-line vote, defeating recess 48-43 and keeping the Senate in business this week.
On Wednesday, Schumer again moved to shut down the Senate after Republicans refused to reconsider House Democrats’ HEROES Act — a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that is now under negotiation between House Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the White House.
“Schumer first moved Tuesday to remove the Protect Act, which is the smaller Republican-backed coronavirus bill the Senate is planning to consider on Tuesday, from the body’s calendar,” Fox News reported. “With a $500 billion price tag, Democrats do not believe it is sufficient as the pandemic moves through what is its eighth full month of a significant economic impact on the U.S.”
“If my Republican colleagues want to do something real, we’re going to give them a chance on the floor right now. I’ll be making a motion to move the Senate into a posture where we can all vote on the Heroes Act that passed the House. If the Senate passed it, it would head right to the president’s desk. Democrats have already modified the bill to make it more palatable to our Republican colleagues, coming down over $1 trillion,” Schumer said in a floor speech.
The Protect Act is a scaled-back relief effort that would focus on extending the Paycheck Protection Program, reinstituting federal supplemental unemployment benefits, and provide another $100 million to struggling schools, as well as an additional handout to manufacturers who are within striking distance of developing a successful coronavirus vaccine.
When Republicans defeated that effort, Schumer once again moved to place the Senate into recess.
“Because of this illicit process, this rush to judgment, the worst nomination proceeding of the Supreme Court in American history that has so defiled the Senate, I move to adjourn,” Schumer added.
Republicans defeated that effort, as well.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to gavel back into session on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday, and the committee is expected to approve seating Barrett, moving the issue on to the full Senate. If McConnell is able to win cloture on Friday, there will be around 30 hours of debate on the subject before the Senate will take a final vote, expected, now, on Monday, according to the official Senate calendar, released Tuesday night.
Schumer says he will continue to derail “regular order” in the Senate until a vote on Barrett’s nomination is pushed off into November.