WASHINGTON — Republicans erupted at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday after Chair Richard J. Durbin blocked them from speaking about two judicial nominees ahead of roll call votes.
Partisan tensions were already high at the markup, since Democrats later would vote to authorize subpoenas related to a Supreme Court ethics investigation.
The Illinois Democrat, apparently irked by a Republican objection that led to a Senate parliamentarian ruling that wiped out Nov. 9 panel votes to advance the two nominees, called for roll call votes on those nominees.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked for an opportunity to speak on the nomination of Mustafa Kasubhai to be a judge in the District of Oregon. Durbin denied it.
“Oh, I’m sorry, we’ve already done that at great length,” Durbin replied, alluding to the previous times Kasubhai had appeared on the panel’s business meeting agenda. “Senator, we’ve debated these nominees twice.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., also asked to speak on the nominee, saying she had not had a chance to do so at previous markups. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., spoke out to defend his colleagues’ ability to debate before a vote.
“We don’t have a right to speak under the rules?” Cotton asked. “The third time, I’d say no,” Durbin responded.
“So you’re just going to make it up?” Cotton asked, taking a sharper tone.
Durbin didn’t relent, and the committee room turned acrimonious. Republicans complained and warned him about what would happen as the clerk took the vote. No Republicans announced a vote when their names were called.
“Come on man, I mean. Ok, do this, just do it,” Graham said.
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