The current state of the Senate has come to this: Senators can’t even agree on a nonbinding resolution to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life, despite bipartisan praise for the late Supreme Court justice.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to pass a resolution on Tuesday afternoon to commemorate Ginsburg and to recognize her request to be replaced when a new president is elected. But the measure was blocked by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who asked Schumer to remove language about when to fill the vacancy. Schumer denied that request.
“Maybe Justice Ginsburg hoped that her dying wish could save the Senate majority from itself,” Schumer said. “It doesn’t appear that way, but … we ask our colleagues to acknowledge her entire life and legacy, including her dying wish.”
Cruz countered: “This endeavor started with a resolution that the majority put forward that was intended to be a bipartisan resolution commemorating the life and service of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Unfortunately the Democratic leader has put forth an amendment to turn that bipartisan resolution into a partisan resolution.”
The Senate devolved into partisan fighting on Tuesday, with both sides accusing the other of hypocrisy. Democrats are seething over Senate Republicans’ decision to move forward on President Donald Trump’s nominee, citing the move by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to block President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 because it was an election year.
But McConnell and Senate Republicans argue that 2020 is different because the White House and the Senate are controlled by the same party. Senate Republicans appear to have the votes to consider Trump’s nominee before the election.
There is little Democrats can do to stop the nomination from moving forward. But that’s not preventing them from using procedural tactics to protest Republican efforts to fill the seat. Democrats on Tuesday invoked the so-called two-hour rule, which denies committees the ability to meet more than two hours after the Senate is in session.
“We invoked the two-hour rule because we can’t have business as usual when Republicans are destroying the institution as they have,” Schumer said on Tuesday at a news conference.
The Senate Intelligence Committee was supposed to host the nation’s top counterintelligence official, William Evanina, but Democrats’ procedural move caused the briefing to be canceled, according to Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“The Senate Intelligence Committee was scheduled to have a briefing today with Director Evanina, who leads our nation’s election security efforts,” Rubio said. “However, Senator Schumer had a temper tantrum over the Supreme Court and used a procedural move to cancel the committee’s briefing.”
On the Senate floor, Rubio asked that the committee’s meeting be allowed to take place, but Schumer objected.
“Reserving the right to object because the Senate Republicans have no respect for the institution, we won’t have business as usual here in the Senate. I object,” Schumer said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, fumed over the objection, calling it “outrageous“ and “unbelievable.“
Democrats, however, contended that Rubio could have changed the purpose of the briefing from a “hearing” to a “meeting” to avoid the scuffle on the Senate floor, since the vast majority of the panel’s activities occur behind closed doors anyway.
The president is expected to name his choice to replace Ginsburg on Saturday.
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.