Barrett's U.S. Supreme Court confirmation edges closer after Sunday vote
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled U.S.
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate on Sunday moved closer toward a final confirmation vote on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, on Monday, just over a week before Election Day.
The Senate voted 51-48, largely along party lines, on Sunday afternoon to limit debate on the nomination, teeing up the final vote that is expected to take place on Monday evening.
With Republicans controlling the chamber 53-47 and no indication of an internal revolt against the conservative appeals court judge replacing liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett looks almost certain to take up a lifetime appointment on the bench over universal Democratic opposition.
Only two Republican senators - Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine - opposed limiting debate.
However, Murkowski said on Saturday she still intends to vote to confirm Barrett this week.
"I have no doubt about her capability to do the job and to do it well," she said on Saturday.
No nominee to the Supreme Court has ever been confirmed by the Senate this close to a presidential election. More than 58 million ballots have already been cast ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.
Democrats boycotted the committee vote on Thursday that advanced the nomination to a final vote on the Senate floor.
Ahead of Monday night's vote, Democrats expressed concerns about the risks of contracting COVID-19 , after several Republican Senate staffers and several members of Vice President Mike Pence's team tested positive for COVID-19 .
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Democrats not to congregate in the Senate chamber and to cast their votes "quickly and from a safe distance."
It was not immediately clear whether Pence will go to the Senate on Monday for the confirmation vote, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday twice declined to answer reporters' questions about it.
Some of his Republican colleagues, meanwhile, did not appear too concerned.
"We've done a very good job within the Senate to follow the guidelines as best we can and I think the vice president will do the same," Senator Mike Rounds told reporters, adding that Pence was "very responsible."
With Barrett on board, the Supreme Court would have a solid 6-3 conservative majority that could last for years. In the short term, Barrett could weigh in on voting cases involving the Trump campaign before or after Election Day.
Trump has said he believes the Supreme Court will decide the election's outcome and has made clear he wants Barrett on the bench for any election-related cases.
Barrett is also likely to participate in the Nov. 10 oral arguments in which Trump and fellow Republicans are asking the court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law known as Obamacare.
A favorite of Christian conservatives, Barrett frustrated Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats during her confirmation hearing this month by sidestepping questions on abortion, presidential powers, climate change, voting rights, Obamacare and other issues.
Barrett, nominated on Sept. 26 to succeed Ginsburg, has criticized previous rulings upholding Obamacare but said during her confirmation hearing she has no agenda to invalidate the measure.
Democrats were incensed that Republicans moved forward with Barrett's confirmation process so near an election after refusing in 2016 to allow the chamber to act on a Supreme Court nomination by Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, because it was an election year.
Republicans are hoping Barrett's confirmation can give a boost to Trump and incumbent senators in the party facing tough re-election fights.
Barrett, 48, has been a federal appeals court judge since 2017 and previously was a legal scholar at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.