It’s Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Election Day is 42 days away. The first presidential debate is one week away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
After more key lawmakers fell in line on Monday, Senate Republicans appear confident that they have the votes needed to confirm President Donald Trump’s eventual nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat. “We’ve got the votes,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) bluntly asserted in a Fox News interview Monday night.
The path for Democrats to block the nominee narrowed after two of the remaining GOP holdouts — Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — both said that they would support Trump’s pick. Gardner is a vulnerable senator facing a tough re-election battle; Grassley is a longtime institutionalist who chaired the Judiciary panel when Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016 and repeatedly said he would oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in this election year as well.
Yet, Grassley said in a statement on Monday, he would support moving forward with President Trump’s nominee regardless, emphasizing the different circumstances between the 2016 vacancy and this one. “While there was ambiguity about the American people’s will for the direction of the Supreme Court in 2016 under a divided government, there is no such ambiguity in 2020,” he declared.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has suffered just two defections from his caucus — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — and only one more Republican is seen as a potential “no” vote on a Trump nominee: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). But even if Romney comes out in opposition, the Senate would be tied 50-50, and Vice President Mike Pence could cast the deciding vote.
With Republicans united behind the nominee, the question then becomes when to hold the vote: according to Politico, many GOP senators prefer voting in the lame-duck session (after the November election but before the new Congress is seated in January) over attempting to rush through a nominee before Election Day. President Trump has expressed a preference for the vote to be held before the election; McConnell has yet to indicate when he will schedule it.
And then, of course, there is the matter of the nominee herself. Trump told “Fox and Friends” in an interview on Monday morning that his shortlist is down to five names and he will likely announce his choice on Friday or Saturday. According to the Associated Press, Trump met with Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Monday.
Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit popular among social conservatives, is widely seen as the frontrunner for the seat. Per Bloomberg News, Trump is “moving toward nominating” Barrett, while his other top choice, Judge Barbara Lagoa, is a “distant second.” McConnell is known to support Barrett, a key endorsement.
House Democrats released a short-term spending bill on Monday that Senate Republicans swiftly rejected, leaving the possibility of a government shutdown in the air. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plans to vote today on her 104-page continuing resolution, which would extend government funding through December 11.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has announced his opposition to the measure, calling for Democrats to include additional funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), a loan program which provides relief for farmers. According to the New York Times, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had struck a deal that would have allocated $30 billion for the CCC in exchange for $2 billion for food assistance for children. However, Pelosi “reneged” on the agreement amid fears that Trump would use the agricultural loan program “as a personal piggy bank to reward a politically powerful constituency weeks before Election Day.”
Government funding is set to expire on September 30, in just more than a week.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team failed to fully investigate President Trump and the events of the 2016 election, one of Mueller’s top prosecutors writes in a new book. “Had we used all available tools to uncover the truth, undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our efforts?” Andrew Weissman, the prosecutor, writes. “I know the hard answer to that simple question: We could have done more.”
Weissman’s book, “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation,” will be published on Tuesday, September 29. Ahead of its release, the New York Times reported on some of the book’s juiciest revelations and conclusion about the high-profile probe.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will receive an intelligence briefing at 12:30 p.m. and then travel to Pennsylvania. He will deliver remarks at a campaign event at 7 p.m. in Pittsburgh before returning to Washington, D.C.
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to New Hampshire. He will deliver remarks at a campaign event at 3 p.m. in Gilford before returning to Washington, D.C.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and vote at 11:30 a.m. on confirmation of Edward Hulvey Meyer to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and on advancing the nomination of Andrea R. Lucas to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The chamber will then recess until 2:15 p.m. so each party can hold their weekly caucus lunches. After the lunches, the Senate will vote to confirm Lucas and to advance the nomination of Keith E. Sonderling to be a member of the EEOC. Sometime in the late afternoon, the chamber will vote to confirm Sonderling.
The House will convene at 9 a.m. and begin consideration of H.R. 8319, the Democratic continuing resolution (CR) extending government funding through December 11.
The chamber is expected to vote on the CR, as well as on H.R. 451, the Don't Break Up the T-Band Act of 2020.
The Supreme Court is on its summer recess.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will attend virtual fundraisers.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will travel to Michigan. She will visit Flint to tour small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Detroit to participate in a “Shop Talk” roundtable conversation with Black me.
In the evening, Harris will participate in a “voter mobilization event” to mark National Voter Registration Day.
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