Politics

In Latest Kavanaugh Drama, Democrats Block Routine Request to Meet

Faced with cutting committee meeting short, GOP leaders opt to adjourn chamber

Brett Kavanaugh, nominee to be a justice of the Supreme Court, is in the midst of a marathon hearing process. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats do not have a lot of options to disrupt the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. But since the Senate can only operate by unanimous consent, it only takes one senator to object, and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer was ready on Wednesday. 

The New York Democrat used one of the few tools at his disposal by objecting to a routine request to allow committees to meet, forcing the chamber to prematurely adjourn for the day. 

Committees are limited to meeting for a total of two hours each day the Senate is in session unless unanimous consent is granted on the floor, which it almost always is. 

Watch: Schumer Forces Senate to Adjourn to Protest Kavanaugh Hearing

On Wednesday, as Kavanaugh was being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on day two of his confirmation hearings, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked for unanimous consent, as he often does, to allow committees to meet for more than two hours after the start of the Senate legislative day — which would mean after 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Schumer objected. 

Faced with the prospect of cutting short Kavanaugh’s hearing over in the Hart Senate Office Building, McConnell instead moved to adjourn for the day. After a few speeches by other senators, the chamber then did just that.

The quick adjournment allows Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley to continue his panel’s hearing for as long as he would like on Wednesday.

A senior Republican aide confirmed that the committee can continue to meet with the Senate having adjourned. And Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed before starting his questioning of Kavanaugh that McConnell's move to adjourn the Senate until noon on Thursday allows the hearing to continue.

Niels Lesniewski and Will Weiss contributed to this report. 

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