Meadows expects “pretty aggressive” timeline for Barrett nomination

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Washington — As the Senate gears up to begin considering the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows predicted the upper chamber will lay out a “pretty aggressive” timeline for her confirmation.

In an interview Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Meadows said the White House has already been in discussions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, whose committee will hold Barrett’s confirmation hearing.

“He is going to put forth a pretty aggressive schedule for hearings and markups that we believe will happen in the middle part of October,” Meadows said of Graham. “And if all goes well, then certainly a vote on the floor some time before the election.”

President Trump announced Saturday his intent to nominate Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Barrett will fill the seat left vacant following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earlier this month.

Shortly after Mr. Trump’s announcement, Graham laid out the timeline for which the Judiciary Committee will consider Barrett’s nomination, with her confirmation hearing beginning October 12 and lasting three to four days. Graham expects his panel will report out Barrett’s nomination October 22, setting up a final vote by the full Senate just before the November 3 election.

Meadows said the speed with which Barrett is confirmed depends on McConnell and “making sure that all the senators are well-informed of the judge’s credentials, which are impeccable.” He said the White House will begin delivering information on Barrett to Capitol Hill on Monday.

Republicans control 53 seats in the Senate, and there are few procedural tools Democrats have at their disposal to block Barrett’s nomination completely. But foremost in their opposition to Barrett’s nomination are her views on the Affordable Care Act, a challenge to which will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 10.

Barrett has been critical of Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the liberal wing of the bench in 2012 in a 5-4 decision upholding Obamacare’s individual mandate. 

“It’s amazing to me that Judge Barrett has publicly criticized the decision by Chief Justice Roberts that upheld the constitutionality of the ACA and that President Trump is making it clear a vote for Judge Barrett to be on the Supreme Court is a vote to repeal the ACA and take away health care protection from a majority of Americans during a pandemic,” Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said on “Face the Nation.”

Coons said he intends to meet with Barrett either in person or by telephone due to the coronavirus pandemic and plans to press her about her past statements about Obamacare.

“President Trump said he would only choose a nominee he was confident would overturn the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “That’s on the Supreme Court’s docket just one week after the election. It defies comprehension why President Trump would continue in his efforts to strip away from the American people preexisting discrimination protection.”

Coons says he’ll press Barrett on Obamacare 06:27

Mr. Trump’s Rose Garden announcement of Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee set into motion what is likely to be a swift and bruising confirmation battle.

His selection of Barrett delighted conservatives, as Barrett became a darling of the religious conservatives in 2017 during her confirmation hearing for her nomination to the 7th Circuit. During her appearance, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, told Barrett “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” Barrett is a devout Catholic, and many Republicans viewed the comment as a bigoted reference to her faith.

Asked about Feinstein’s comments, Coons said “religious faith should not be at issue here.”

“There isn’t a religious test for service in the government, whether it’s in the Senate or on the Supreme Court,” he said. “What should be raised is her opinions, her speeches, her public statements as a professor and a judge, and whether or not she will uphold precedent.”

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