The next step in the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court will take place Thursday when the Senate Committee on the Judiciary votes whether to move her nomination to the full Senate for a vote.
Here’s a look at what will likely happen in the coming week:
The judiciary committee has scheduled a vote on Barrett’s nomination for 1 p.m. ET on Thursday. This vote involves the 22 members of the committee: 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans.
The nominee can get one of three recommendations from the committee – favorable, unfavorable or no recommendation. Even if Barrett were to get an unfavorable or no recommendation, the full Senate vote would take place.
There has to be a simple majority vote to advance the nomination to the full Senate for a vote. If Barrett gets the majority vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will set the time for a vote on her nomination by the full Senate.
Assuming that Barrett’s nomination is moved out of committee Thursday, McConnell has said he would put the nomination on the floor of the Senate on Friday. McConnell cannot put the nomination forth on the same day it comes out of committee via Senate rules. He can put it on the floor for consideration on the following day.
When he does put it to the Senate as a whole, he must move the Senate into executive session, meaning that the senators take up that issue alone.
To get to executive session, a simple majority vote is required. For the vote to pass, there must be a quorum, meaning that at least 51 senators must be present for business to be conducted. Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, so Republicans would need to have their members present to avoid having Democrats stall the vote because there is no quorum of senators.
The vote to go into an executive session can be counted in three ways, by a roll call vote, a voice vote or by unanimous consent. For a vote to be by unanimous consent, no member of the Senate can voice an objection. The vote is not subject to a filibuster.
Once the Senate moves into executive session, the Senate clerk will read aloud the nomination on the floor of the Senate. After the nomination is read, McConnell could file cloture – or a measure to end any debate on the nomination – then a day must go by before the Senate can vote on the cloture motion.
So if McConnell files a cloture motion on Friday, the measure would sit in the Senate on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the cloture petition would be ready for a vote. That vote would curb any filibuster, or debate that would delay the vote on the nomination.
On Sunday, the Senate can begin voting on the cloture petition (to end debate) one hour after the Senate meets.
Or McConnell could plan the cloture vote for Monday or any other day after that.
Once the Senate votes on cloture, opponents may use up to 30 hours on the clock before a final confirmation vote. That means if the Senate votes on Sunday, the final vote on Barrett’s nomination could come as early as Monday.
How many votes are needed?
In 2013, the Senate, which had a Democratic majority, voted to eliminate the filibuster for executive branch nominees and all judicial nominees except for Supreme Court nominees. The move was known as the “nuclear option.”
In April 2017, the Senate, which is now led by Republicans, applied the nuclear option to Supreme Court nominations as well. That means to stop cloture, you need only a simple majority vote.
Once you stop cloture, a vote can happen 30 hours later. That vote on whether the nominee is to be confirmed to the court also requires only a simple majority vote.
Of the 53 Senate Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have said they do not wish to vote for Barrett’s nomination prior to the Nov. 3 election.
If they choose not to vote, Republicans can still confirm Barrett with 51 yea votes. Should the vote end in a tie, Vice President Mike Pence could break the tie and push Barrett’s nomination through.
If Pence were to do that, it would be the first time in American history a vice president did so.