US President Donald Trump is urging Republicans to rush through the confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Trump even suggested that Senate republicans skip planned hearings and just move directly to the confirmation stage, something that if it was to happen, it would be completely unprecedented.
The president hopes that a rushed confirmation of Judge Barrett could free up the senate to work on a coronavirus relief package. The president complained in a tweet that “Republicans are giving Democrats a great deal of time” in these hearings. Trump added that “personally I would pull back, approve, and go for the stimulus for the people.” The confirmation hearings for Judge Barrett began on Monday under the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If indeed Barrett is confirmed by the Republican-led senate, it will completely skew the composition of the Supreme Court with a 6-3 majority in favor of conservatives. Democrats had earlier insisted that a nomination for the nation’s apex court should wait until the election. But Republicans didn’t hear any of it with Trump nominating Barrett barely days after the passing of former Supreme Court Judge Ruth Badder Ginsburg.
Senate Democrats have also criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee for rushing the confirmation hearing arguing that this time would have been better used to discuss and pass a stimulus package for the millions of Americans hurting as a result of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These sentiments were even shared in public by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a campaign stop in Ohio. The former Vice President accused Republicans of turning their back on the American people by prioritizing the confirmation of Barrett at the expense of a coronavirus aid bill.
The Trump White House has in recent days been in intense negotiations with Democrats over a possible bill. In the latest salvo, the White House agreed to offer up to $1.8 trillion in federal relief.
It still falls short of what the Democrats are demanding and we’re not sure a deal will be struck anytime soon. The White House had earlier pulled out of the negotiations with the President noting clearly that any relief package should come after the election. But he soon reversed course and decided to come back to the table.
Democrats are demanding more money for healthcare and increased COVID-19 testing. Republicans, on the other hand, maintain that the spending proposed by the Democrats is just too much. This tussle also comes just weeks before the general election in November. Right now, Trump is behind Biden in the national polls and in a number of key states.
While passing a coronavirus bill right now may not be decisive enough to affect the outcome of the November poll, it could provide the Trump campaign with a small glimmer of hope. But with the Barrett confirmation ongoing, it’s highly unlikely that any relief package will pass in Congress.