Senate panel sets October 22 vote on Trump court pick despite Democrats’ protests

(Reuters) – The Republican-led U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday scheduled an Oct. 22 vote to advance conservative appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court to the full Senate, moving ahead with the confirmation process over Democratic objections.

The fourth and final day of the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s nominee wrapped up in the early afternoon after committee Democrats protested what they called the needlessly rushed nature of proceedings and complaining that Barrett sidestepped questions about presidential powers, abortion, climate change, voting rights and Obamacare.

“I believe that this rushed, sham process is a disservice to our committee,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said. “She has been rushed in a way that is historically unprecedented … and the purpose of doing it is simply to have a justice on the Supreme Court, as the president said, to decide the election and to strike down the Affordable Care Act.”

The Republican president has asked the Senate to confirm Barrett before the Nov. 3 U.S. election in which he is seeking a second term in office. Trump has said he expects the court to decide the election’s outcome.

Republicans are aiming for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor by the end of October.

With Republicans holding a 53-47 Senate majority, her confirmation seems assured. Barrett’s confirmation would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority. Barrett, 48, could serve for decades, alongside Trump’s two other Supreme Court selections, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

“There is no way you will ever convince me that Amy Coney Barrett is not qualified, using any reasonable standards of qualification,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman, said.

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