‘We can’t have business as usual’: Schumer invokes ‘two-hour rule’ to limit committee meetings

President Donald Trump has affirmed his intent to nominate a replacement within days to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to have the votes needed to confirm the president’s pick.

That has not stopped Senate Democrats from expressing opposition using any tools available to shut things down, however. According to CBS News, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved this week to invoke a rule limiting committee meeting schedules ahead of a confirmation vote on Trump’s nominee.

“Nothing will be off the table”

Schumer made the move on Tuesday, a short time after declaring that “nothing will be off the table” in the coming year if Republicans push through a replacement for Ginsburg before Election Day, as Politico reported.

As for the so-called “two-hour rule” invoked this week, Schumer was able to prohibit committees and subcommittees from convening after the Senate has been in session for more than two hours or after 2 p.m.

The minority leader made a subsequent attempt to defend the move, but even his explanation amounted to little more than political payback.

“We invoked the two-hour rule because we can’t have business as usual when Republicans are destroying the institution as they have done,” he said, according to CBS.

“It’s just unbelievable”

As a result of Schumer’s move, a confirmation hearing for Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was forced to be canceled. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed her outrage over the maneuver despite her public opposition to holding a Supreme Court confirmation vote prior to the election.

According to the Associated Press, Collins spoke out to complain that Schumer “has been saying over and over again that we’re not having enough briefings on election security” but opted to limit the time spent in related committees.

Collins said that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) “came to the Senate floor, explained what we were meeting on, and asked for permission to meet,” only to be denied by the minority leader. “It’s just unbelievable,” she added.

Committees can reportedly work around the restriction by agreeing to meet during early morning hours before the Senate is in session or after it has adjourned. The rule is also not in effect if the Senate goes into recess.

Rubio addressed the developments on Tuesday, asserting that “we should know today” if Schumer planned to similarly prevent an intelligence briefing planned for the following day.

Sources indicated that Democratic Party leaders did not plan to invoke the rule on Wednesday as they wanted to preserve hearings on the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. Nevertheless, Schumer’s willingness to disrupt Senate norms like this in the first place is likely enough to give more than a few voters pause ahead of Election Day.

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