Wednesday Democrats announced that they would boycott the Judiciary Committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett. Instead of showing up for the vote they set up over-sized photos in their chairs of people who could lose their Obamacare insurance. This stunt didn’t accomplish anything except to signal to frustrated resistance Democrats that their representatives are willing to fight every inch of the way to oppose Barrett. Democrats want outrage, not the calm collegiality (and the hug) offered by Sen. Feinstein.
Today those efforts to impress the angry base continued as Democrats made a number of moves to delay progress toward Barrett’s confirmation:
The procedural maneuvering began as soon as the Senate convened, with Schumer forcing all senators for a “live quorum call,” a roll call where every senator has to declare that they are present. He then called for an in-person vote to proceed with the legislative session, and forced the Senate to convene for a rare closed session to “talk face to face about what this might mean for the country.”
The Washington Post has more on Schumer’s closed session maneuver:
“I believe the Senate majority is on the precipice of making a colossal and historic mistake,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said as he moved to close the Senate.
Referring to the Senate and the Supreme Court, Schumer said the “damage to Americans’ faith in these institutions could be lasting, so before we go any further, we should shut off the cameras, close the Senate and talk face-to-face about what this might mean for the country.”
The move immediately garnered attention from the media:
Schumer just moved to force a closed session in order to have a “candid conversation” about the push to confirm the nomination. Sen. John Kennedy, the presiding officer, ordered all galleries cleared, including where us reporters were seated.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 23, 2020
The Washington Post:
The Senate unexpectedly goes into closed session to, in theory, try to candidly discuss their differences over the confirmation process of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 23, 2020
Closed session has begun. Staffers were just kicked out of the Senate chamber.
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) October 23, 2020
“Long shot to succeed, but why not?”
Whoa…Schumer just forced the Senate into a rare closed door session. No cameras. No press. Doors being locked as I type. A last ditch effort to convince Republicans to not send the Senate into this death spiral of power politics.
Long shot to succeed, but why not?Stay tuned.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 23, 2020
But before any momentum could build in support of it, the closed session was over. It lasted less than 20 minutes:
Marco Rubio says there was no debate during the closed Senate session
He says the GOP just immediately moved to a roll call vote to open up the Senate
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 23, 2020
Extremely anticlimactic closed session. As soon as the Senate went into closed session they started voting to get out of it. Rubio called it “crazy” to have 100 senators locked “in a poorly ventilated room”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) October 23, 2020
Schumer quickly whined about the stunt’s failure on Twitter:
I required the GOP to show up for a live quorum call—Senate can't do business without quorum
Then I forced us into closed session to talk face-to-face about this nomination & its impact on America
But the GOP decided to keep forcing this nominee through an illegitimate process
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 23, 2020
As did other Democrats:
I can't talk about the closed session, but you can tell from how briefly we were in there that my GOP colleagues are hellbent on ramming through this nom even if it means torching Senate’s traditions, rules, & integrity. They're not even willing to listen with the cameras off.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 23, 2020
Again, Democrats know this isn’t likely to accomplish anything. That’s not really the point. The point is to signal to the base that they are fighting, fighting, fighting. So even though this was a failure, they probably accomplished what they set out to accomplish. Tonight the evening news will report they gave every last ounce of effort to oppose the nominee. In any case, here’s the bottom line from the Post:
Barrett’s confirmation, which has produced a rancorous yet truncated fight in the Senate, is all but assured at this point. She has the support of nearly all GOP senators, and needs only a simple majority of the Senate to clear two key floor votes en route to becoming a justice.
Here’s Schumer forcing the closed session to strike a pose for the cameras:
"The doors will be closed."
The Senate is now in closed session. pic.twitter.com/R7IQUIKQ5d
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 23, 2020