Republicans Vow to Confirm Kavanaugh by Fall Despite Possible Delays

Republican Senate leaders appear determined to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by the fall, in the face of avowed resistance from Democrats and the nominee’s extensive record to review.

Majority whip John Cornyn suggested that there isn’t much Democrats can do at the end of the day, though he said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if they did attempt to delay the nomination process.

“They can probably create some bumps in the road,” he told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “But they can’t stop it.”

He said that Kavanaugh would be confirmed in a time frame similar to that of previous justices, even with the lengthy record accompanying his 12-year tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “We ought to be able to handle this on roughly the same timetable as Sonia Sotomayor,” he said.

But some lawmakers are signaling that Kavanaugh’s extensive record could hinder a speedy confirmation process.

Delaware Democrat Chris Coons said Tuesday that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would thoroughly examine Kavanaugh’s record and “demand the release of every single record that might be relevant.” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, speaking ahead of Coons, promised to fight Kavanaugh’s nomination “with everything I’ve got.”

Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, meanwhile, expressed concern on Tuesday about combing through the “massive” trove of Kavanaugh-related documents, per the Washington Post. Still, Republican leaders do not appear perturbed.

“We believe it’s possible to handle this nomination fully by the fall,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, and added that Grassley believes the same.

The New York Times reported Saturday that, previous to Kavanaugh’s nomination, McConnell raised concerns that the amount of documents for review could give Democrats ammunition to slow-roll the confirmation vote. In addition to his time on the D.C. bench, those documents could relate to Kavanaugh’s role in the Bush administration as a staff secretary and his role as assistant to independent counsel Ken Starr.

John Thune, the Senate’s number three Republican, said he expected Democrats to throw “everything but the kitchen sink” in Kavanaugh’s way. “I think they decided early on that their base is going to require them to dig in and fight it and slow it down, and do whatever they can to try and stop it,” he told TWS.

And he said that Democrats are playing politics with wholesale opposition to the pick. He later noted that some declared their opposition before the nominee was announced.

“At the end of the day, the knee-jerk instinctive opposition that the Democrats are bringing at this is much more about election year politics than it is the Supreme Court.”

Republicans need a simple majority to confirm Kavanaugh. They hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, although Arizona senator John McCain has been at home receiving cancer treatment. If all senators vote and Democrats are unified in opposition, Republicans could withstand one defector and still put the judge on the court, because of Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreak.

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are widely seen as the two Republicans with the highest possibility of breaking ranks. But a few red state Democrats up for reelection, who also voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, may vote for Kavanaugh. Indiana senator Joe Donnelly, North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia senator Joe Manchin backed Gorsuch’s confirmation.

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham told reporters on Tuesday that he believed more Democrats would vote for Kavanaugh than Gorsuch, in part because of the impending midterm elections.

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