In the face of widespread economic suffering and a deadly pandemic, a new poll shows that 3 out of 4 likely American voters want the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to prioritize passing a comprehensive Covid-19 relief package over ramming through President Donald Trump's right-wing nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Of the 928 registered voters who responded to the online Hill-HarrisX survey between September 30 and October 1—prior to the news of a White House outbreak in which Trump himself had contracted the coronavirus—74% said the Senate should pass a new economic relief bill, while only 26% said lawmakers should take on the Supreme Court confirmation process.
The poll finds that support for prioritizing coronavirus relief over hearings for Trump's judicial nominee spans partisan divides—with 88% of Democrats, 77% of independents, and 55% of Republicans all in favor of approving more economic aid first.
"Trump's Senate allies are doing everything they can to ensure Trump's pick for the high court moves swiftly through the approvals process," Kyle Herrig, president of watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement on Monday. "Where has this urgency been as Americans have languished for weeks without new coronavirus relief?"
In an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) characterized the Trump administration's failures as an example of the GOP's "callous disregard for human life" and called the Senate's hasty Supreme Court confirmation process "a sham."
There’s a COVID outbreak in the Senate.— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) October 4, 2020
They refuse to pass a relief bill & yet they’re trying to ram through a Supreme Court nominee just so they can tear healthcare away from millions of people. In a pandemic.
No confirmation until inauguration. pic.twitter.com/L2q8EwNPQ3
"They refuse to pass a relief bill," Pressley tweeted, "and yet they're trying to ram through a Supreme Court nominee just so they can tear healthcare away from millions of people... in a pandemic."
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, slammed Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) decision to officially schedule Supreme Court confirmation hearings beginning on October 12.
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"This is beyond irresponsible," Gupta said Monday. "If the Senate must do anything right now, it's passing legislation to address Covid-19. Not this."
Judiciary Committee Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC has officially scheduled the SCOTUS confirmation hearings to begin a week from today. This is beyond irresponsible. If the Senate must do anything right now, it's passing legislation to address COVID. Not this. https://t.co/DATlqoeraA pic.twitter.com/rOx7fGAN1A— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) October 5, 2020
Last week, as Common Dreams reported, the Democratic-controlled House passed—without the support of a single Republican representative—an updated version of the HEROES Act, which has since been refused a vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Yet that didn't stop McConnell (R-Ky.) from making the outlandish claim Monday night on social media that "we will not stop working for the American people." Gupta pointed out that McConnell has "been blocking Covid-19 relief" for over 140 days, even as he tries to cement Republicans' right-wing agenda by fast-tracking the approval of a Supreme Court nominee who is intent on "stripping away healthcare for millions of people."
"We will not stop working for the American people," says the Senate Majority Leader, who has been blocking COVID relief for 143 days. https://t.co/JVu4jm1tg1— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) October 6, 2020
Although McConnell said that he would postpone reconvening his chamber of Congress for two weeks after multiple senators—including two on the judiciary committee—tested positive for the coronavirus, he declared that nothing would prevent him from pushing Barrett through hybrid hearings.
"As small businesses risk shuttering and people stand on the brink of eviction," said Herrig, "the Senate's top priority should be additional Covid-19 relief."
"When will lawmakers start putting that ahead of Trump's radical judicial agenda?" he asked.