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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivers a speech on the impending confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Oct. 25. (Photo: screenshot)

As Senate Dems Hold Talkathon in Protest, Warren Condemns GOP Vote on Barrett as 'Last Gasp of a Desperate Party'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others slammed the Republicans for prioritizing the judge's confirmation over providing coronavirus relief for American families.

Julia Conley

A "talkathon" on the U.S. Senate floor that began Sunday night continued Monday as Democratic senators did their best to protest and delay the final confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett currently scheduled for 7:30 p.m. this evening.

With Barrett's confirmation all but certain, Democrats said the talkathon was necessary to make clear to the public that the GOP is ramming through the confirmation of President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court nominee in what Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called "a corrupt and illegitimate process."

"The reason the Republicans are willing to break every rule to jam through an illegitimate nomination eight days before the election is that they have realized a truth that shakes them down to their core: the American people are not on their side."
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Warren was among the first senators to speak during the talkathon, appearing on the Senate floor late Sunday night and delivering a 17-minute speech on Barrett's nomination as well as remarks on how the judge's confirmation would harm Warren's constituents. 

The senator said the Republican Party's impending confirmation of Barrett—against the dying wishes of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the precedent set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2016 when he refused to hold hearings on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination—is "the last gasp of a desperate party."

"This is a party beholden to billionaires and extremists that is desperate to keep its grasp on power and willing to break any rule, any precedent, or any principle to hold onto that power just a little longer," said Warren, adding that the Democrats are well aware they cannot stop Barrett's confirmation at this point. "I'm under no illusions here. Democrats have fought tooth and nail, but the Republicans control the Senate. The reason the Republicans are willing to break every rule to jam through an illegitimate nomination eight days before the election is that they have realized a truth that shakes them down to their core: the American people are not on their side."

The Senate Democrats previously held talkathons during the Trump administration to protest the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republicans' attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017. With the Supreme Court set to hear a case on the healthcare law on Nov. 10—and Barrett on record as criticizing court decisions which have upheld the ACA—Warren said Republicans in the Senate are preparing to "vote to strip healthcare from millions of people."

A vote for Barrett, she said, is "a vote to turn back the clock on reproductive freedom. To endanger Dreamers and immigrants. To let climate change rampage unchecked. To imperil efforts to address systemic racism. To place workers' rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and gun violence prevention at risk."

"Ultimately, it's also a vote to rubber stamp an illegitimate process carried out against the wishes of much of the nation—and against the backdrop of a deadly crisis that Senate Republicans have ignored as Americans have died," the senator added. 

On Monday morning, Warren was joined by colleagues including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)—who along with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) spoke during the "graveyard shift," appearing on the Senate floor between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. 

Baldwin repeated a call—made by the American public, advocacy groups, and lawmakers for months—for Senate Republicans to pass legislation to ensure American families and small businesses get the relief they need during the coronavirus pandemic before pushing through a Supreme Court confirmation.

"Right now people want action, support, and relief from Washington. The House passed the HEROES Act over five months ago," Baldwin said. "Was there a rush for the Senate majority to take action to confront the public health and economic crisis that has only gotten worse since then? No. This legislation has been sitting on the majority leader's desk since May while businesses have closed, millions have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have died."

Voters, Gillibrand said, "sent us here to raise their voices, represent their interests, and provide them with the help that they need... Eight million Americans have fallen into poverty during this pandemic including an outsize number of people of color and children... People are sick, they are struggling and scared about the future. For months my fellow Democrats and I have been calling for a vote on the relief package the House put forward to address these concerns and we have been met with silence."

"The weeks we should have dedicated to negotiating a real relief package have instead been spent rushing through the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice," the senator added. "The hypocrisy is truly stunning."

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