Republicans in the US Senate advanced Donald Trump”s Supreme Court nominee on Thursday to a full Senate vote despite a boycott by left-leaning Democrats in the judiciary committee.
The vote puts conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination on track to be confirmed before the November 3 presidential election.
Democratic senators boycotted the vote in protest of the attempt to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month from complications due to pancreatic cancer, before the election.
Democrats say that it is too close to the presidential election and that the next president should nominate someone.
Republicans, who hold a majority in the Senate, voted unanimously in favour of Barrett.
“This is a groundbreaking, historic moment,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee chairman. “We did it.”
Instead of attending, the Democrats displayed posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act now being challenged in court.
The 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court would lock a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future.
The court is set to face rulings on the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare), access to abortion and even results from the presidential election.
“We should not be moving forward on this nomination,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday in announcing the boycott. He called Barrett’s views “so far out of the mainstream.”
With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Trump’s pick for the court is almost certain to be confirmed. All Democrats are expected to oppose Barrett’s confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has defended Barrett as “exceptionally qualified” and defended the choice to push through her nomination.
McConnell had prevented Barack Obama’s nominee from being considered in February 2016 because he said it was too close to a presidential election.
The Republican panel had to change the rules of the committee due to the Democratic boycott. Normally at least two members of the minority party should be present.