Senators settle old grudges as Barrett confirmation hearing starts

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The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off formal proceedings Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court with an effort by senators to settle old scores over Republicans’ decision to move forward with her nomination in an election year.

While lawmakers were addressing Barrett directly, she may as well have not been present. Senators on both sides of the aisle largely acknowledged the inevitability of Barrett’s confirmation — even as they harangued each other during their opening statements in partisan terms.

“Unless something really dramatic happens, all Republicans will vote yes and all Democrats will vote no,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, though he acknowledged that “this is going to be a long, contentious week.”

With the presidential election less than a month away, Democrats have displayed a united front heading into the four-day slate of hearings, calling attention to the Trump administration’s efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and what they see as Senate Republicans’ hypocrisy in seeking to confirm Barrett, 48, to the high court so close to the election. In 2016, Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, and at the time said it was because the vacancy opened up during an election year when the Senate and the White House were controlled by different parties.

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