WASHINGTON — Most lawmakers are back in their home states at this point campaigning for reelection, but Senate Judiciary Committee members were on Capitol Hill last week as they consider Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Her nomination hearings were held even as millions of Americans cast their ballots so it was perhaps unsurprising that the proceedings dripped with campaign politics.
Democrats focused on the potential for Barrett to provide a key vote affecting areas from abortion rights to same-sex marriage. They focused most heavily on the prospect of her being the linchpin for conservatives to overturn the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers to millions of Americans.
Republicans said Democrats were inappropriately focusing on Barrett’s policy views. GOP members also criticized talk that Democrats could expand the Supreme Court if they take control of the White House and Senate. The panel includes both of Iowa’s Republican senators and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who used particularly pointed language about expanding the size of the court.
“Court-packing would depend on the destruction of the full debate here in the Senate, and it is a partisan suicide bombing that would end the deliberative structure of the United States Senate and make this job less interesting for all one hundred of us,” Sasse said during the hearing.
Sasse made his case again later in the week, criticizing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for not being more clear about his position.
“Vice President Biden is playing with fire while the radical left threatens to pour gasoline on both the Senate and the Supreme Court,” Sasse said in a press release. “Court-packing would burn down two branches of government by killing the Senate’s filibuster and turning the Supreme Court into an unelected super-legislature. This garbage is constitutional arson.”
Biden has said he’s not a fan of expanding the court but that President Donald Trump is trying to distract from his pushing the Barrett nomination through in the midst of an ongoing election.
Sasse also made headlines when the Washington Examiner obtained an audio clip of a telephone town hall the senator held Wednesday. In that clip, Sasse said Trump has bungled the response to the coronavirus pandemic and spends like a drunken sailor. He also described the president as someone who has sucked up to dictators while abandoning U.S. allies and flirted with white supremacists while privately mocking evangelicals.
Trump fired back Saturday on Twitter with his assessment of Sasse: “The least effective of our 53 Republican Senators, and a person who truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great, is Little Ben Sasse of Nebraska," the president wrote, calling Sasse "a liability to the Republican Party, and an embarrassment to the Great State of Nebraska."
In other news:
House races enter the home stretch
The Omaha area will see plenty of TV ads as money pours into the 2nd District House race where Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., faces Democratic challenger Kara Eastman. Eastman’s total receipts for the third quarter were $1.8 million, compared to Bacon’s $977,000.
The Bacon campaign said less than 20% of Eastman’s contributions in the quarter came from Nebraska while the Eastman campaign noted that independent spending by outside groups has favored Bacon.
The two candidates faced off in a debate last week where they duked it out over health care, coronavirus pandemic relief and other areas.
In the state’s 1st District, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., debated State Sen. Kate Bolz, a Democrat, on many of the same issues.
Election Day is just over two weeks away.
Nebraska’s members of Congress
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