weather icon Partly Cloudy

McConnell vowed to push Court nominee, but might not have votes

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, vowed to hold a vote on a replacement for deceased Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but the big question is whether he has the votes to confirm a justice only six weeks before the presidential election.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, recently said that they would not vote for a Supreme Court nominee if a justice died or retired close to the presidential election.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is also likely to oppose any nominee put forward this close to the election.

McConnell has a 53-47 majority in the Senate, so he can technically afford to lose three Republican votes, because Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie and cast the deciding vote. But there are a lot of other unknowns. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in 2018 that if he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he would not bring up a Supreme Court nominee in an election year. But Grassley’s comments were not an ironclad pledge not to vote for a nominee in an election year.

In addition, the Judiciary Committee is now chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has already flip-flopped on the issue. In 2018, Graham said, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.” But this past May, Graham reversed himself, saying that the standard was whether the Senate was held by a party different than that of the president.

This is the same justification that McConnell used Friday night to justify his push forward with a nominee for Trump, despite having stonewalled President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016 when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of the election year.

But McConnell’s main argument for blocking Obama’s nominee after Scalia died — which was an enormous break with Senate norms — was that the Senate should not vote on a nominee during an election year.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said hours after Scalia died, ignoring that the voice of the American people elected Obama in 2012 to a four-year term. McConnell’s initial statement said nothing about divided government.

“We know what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. We know what would happen. A nominee of a Republican president would not be confirmed by a Democratic Senate when the vacancy was created in a presidential election year. That’s a fact,” McConnell said, ignoring the fact that the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy, a nominee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, by a 97-0 vote Feb. 3, 1988. McConnell was a senator at the time.

There are a number of other Republicans who might theoretically vote against a nominee. However, if Democrats have learned anything from the Trump era, it has been that when Republicans have to choose between principle and Trump, Trump usually wins.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
State reports 1,146 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths

For the first time since Aug. 14, more than 1,000 new cases were reported in Nevada on Saturday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

USDA works to expand rural broadband

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications for funding to provide broadband service in undeserved rural areas. Broadband service is the speed of your internet. This new grant will be available in the year 2021 under the Community Connect Grant program.

Tuatara comes to the finish line on highway 160

The motor of the now record-breaking SSC Tuatara wound down to its final stop along Highway 160, near Tecopa Road, on Oct. 10.

Helicopter crashes into Lake Spring Mountain

No serious injuries were reported following the crash of a helicopter in a lake at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club just after 10 a.m., on Friday morning, Oct. 16.

Nye County waives brothel licensing fees, rejects same request for pot industry

In the face of COVID-19, many businesses in Nye County have seen negative impacts and have been struggling to keep afloat as the pandemic continues to hold sway over government mandated restriction. In a lot of cases, those businesses have been able to turn to federal, state and local programs for assistance but not so for the brothel and marijuana industries, which are barred from utilizing a majority, if not all, of the available programs.

Impact statement for Lee Canyon plans now available

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on Oct. 9 published the Notice of Availability of the final Lee Canyon Master Development Plan Phase I Environmental Impact Statement for a 30-day review period.

Nursing home group warns of another COVID-19 spike

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately 5 million people each year, released a report today showing nursing homes in the U.S. could see a third spike of increasing new COVID-19 cases because of the community spread among the general population.

WGU enhances B.S. degree program in cloud computing

Western Governors University on Tuesday announced the launch of key updates to its Bachelor of Science cloud computing degree program built in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. The degree program is designed to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy and meet the demands of employers seeking cloud professionals.

Health guidelines revised for vocal performances

Nevada Health Response has issued a revised version of the “Nevada Guidance for Safe Gatherings” to clarify when vocal performers can remove face coverings.

Nevada gets high marks for computer education

Nevada’s strides in computer science education were recognized Oct. 14 in a report by Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance.