But they did it without any help from Democrats, who boycotted the hearing in protest of what they say is an illegitimate process being used to jam through President Donald Trump’s nominee before the Nov. 3 election.
The vote was 12-10, with all 10 Democrats absent.
“This has been a sham process from the beginning,” Democrats on the committee said in a Wednesday night statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions and execute the extreme and deeply unpopular agenda that they’ve been unable to get through Congress.”
While Republicans were voting on Barrett’s nomination, Democrats were preparing to hold a press conference on the steps of the Senate highlighting the threat Barrett poses to health care, reproductive rights, voting rights and other issues. They didn’t leave their seats empty back in the hearing room: They filled them with poster-sized photos of people who would be hurt by Barrett potentially casting a deciding vote against the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans used their time to praise Barrett and knock Democrats for walking out on the hearing.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the walkout “theater” and compared the pictures of people in Democrats’ seats to cardboard cutouts at sporting events.
“They’re boycotting this markup because their substantive arguments are not persuasive,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said of Democrats.
“Obviously, our colleagues don’t think that they oughta represent their states ... when they don’t show up here,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) added.
But part of the reason why Democrats are rejecting Barrett’s confirmation process is the GOP’s hypocrisy in confirming a Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year. In early 2016, Republicans made the unprecedented decision to refuse to give President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote. They argued it was inappropriate to advance a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year ― which is exactly what they’re doing now, less than two weeks from the election.
Democrats have never had much of a chance of stopping Barrett’s nomination. They simply don’t have the votes. But progressives have been pressuring them to put up a big fight, and on Thursday they chalked up a small victory with the Democrats’ boycott.
“We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway,” Democrats said in their statement.
After the Republicans voted, chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said they should be proud of themselves for moving forward with Barrett’s nomination. He didn’t mention that they broke a committee rule to do it. Two members of the minority are supposed to be present in order to conduct business. He ignored that rule Thursday.
“We did it. We did it. Judge Barrett’s going to the floor,” Graham said. “I hope you look back on this time on the committee and say, ‘I was there when it mattered.’ And you were.”
Barrett is on track to get her confirmation vote on Monday.