ice President Mike Pence
and Mitch McConnell hosted a meeting for Republican lawmakers to sit down with Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill Tuesday as she prepares for a swift but controversial nomination process.
‘[Barrett will] be visiting with members who are interested in talking to her during the course of the next few days. And we’re glad to have her here and get the process started,’ Senate Majority Leader McConnell told a group of press gathered in the Mansfield Meeting Room.
Ahead of the private meetings on Tuesday, Vice President Pence called for a ‘respectful hearing’ for Barrett.
Democrats, however, are split on how to handle the nomination – with some claiming they will not even meet with Barrett, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
‘I am not going to meet with Judge Barrett. Why would I meet with a nominee of such an illegitimate process and one who is determined to get rid of the Affordable Care Act?’ Schumer tweeted Tuesday.
Some claim Trump is ‘hurrying’ Barrett’s nomination process because he wants her to be seated on the Supreme Court to help strike down Obamacare, as oral arguments for the case will begin at the highest court in November.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were standing behind Pence during his short remarks for the media as Barrett stood at a distance between them and McConnell.
‘We look forward, our entire team leader, to working with you, Republicans in the Senate and, we hope, Democrats in the Senate, as well, as you discharge your duty to advise consent,’ Pence said.
‘We truly do believe that Judge Barrett represents the best of America,’ he told select press allowed in ahead of the meeting.
Barrett did not make any remarks and no one commented as a member of the press asked if the judge should recuse herself from any cases related to the 2020 election if she were confirmed ahead of Election Day.
Several Democrats already say they will refuse to meet with the federal judge, claiming Barrett’s nomination is ‘illegitimate’ and a ‘sham.’
But that doesn’t matter, as Senate Republicans have the votes to confirm Barrett – giving Trump an unprecedented three Supreme Court nominations in the first term of his presidency.
On Barrett’s meeting docket for today are Republican Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, who was first up; Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is President Pro Tempore of the Senate; Ted Cruz of Texas; John Thune of South Dakota; Mike Lee of Utah; Rick Scott of South Carolina, who is the only black Republican senator; and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
‘It’s the start of a very long process, but went well,’ Meadows told reporters after the remarks as he left Barrett along with Crapo.
Following Cruz’s meeting with Barrett, press were escorted into the Mansfield Meeting Room to hear from the Texas senator and Supreme Court nominee.
Cruz, who was once floated as one of the people Trump was considering to nominate, said he ‘unfortunately’ expects attacks from Democrats, vowing to fight off any ‘personal smears that marred the [Brett] Kavanaugh confirmation.’
He also was one of the only senators to respond when asked whether Barrett should recuse herself from any election-related Supreme Court cases.
‘Of course not, that the entire reason the Senate should act and should act promptly to confirm a ninth justice is so the Supreme Court can resolve any cases that arise in the wake of the election,’ Cruz told reporters. ‘This election is a closely contested election. Joe Biden has already stated that if he doesn’t win, he intends to contest the legitimacy of the election.’
‘It would be inappropriate for them to recuse themselves because justices are not political agents for whatever political – whatever president happened to nominate them, or whatever Senate happened to confirm them,’ he continued.
Graham announced Sunday that the confirmation process for Barrett will begin on October 12. He also said they would then bring her nomination to the Senate floor by October 22 – signaling a confirmation vote before Halloween.
Two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, say they will not vote to confirm Barrett. But the GOP still has the simple majority votes needed.
The two dissenting Republicans, as well as many Democrats, cite their opposition to Barrett’s nomination as being set on an apparent precedent from 2016 when the GOP-majority Senate refused to move forward with then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination months before the presidential election.