“The damage to Americans’ faith in these institutions could be lasting,” he said. “So, before we go any further, we should shut off the cameras, close the Senate, and talk face to face about what this might mean for the country.”
Republicans wanted no such discussion. They voted within a matter of minutes to reopen the proceedings and move ahead with considering Judge Barrett.
“It’s just harassment,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “It’s not about substance.”
But it was left to Mr. McConnell, the architect of Republicans’ takeover of the federal courts, to offer a fuller response. Turning away from the cameras to speak directly to Republican members seated at their desks, he offered a selectively curated history of the devolving judicial nominations process in the Senate, reaching back to Democrats’ rejection of Robert Bork, a conservative nominee, in 1987.
Mr. McConnell argued that the decision to block Judge Garland had been consistent with history and so was the decision to confirm Judge Barrett because now, unlike then, the same party controls the White House and the Senate. Democrats view the Garland blockade as a serious escalation from which the chamber has not recovered.
“This is not spin. This is fact,” Mr. McConnell said. Referring to Democrats, he added: “Every new escalation, every new step, every new shattered precedent, every one of them was initiated over there. No exceptions.”
In a sign of how toxic the relationship between the two leaders had become four years after Mr. Schumer assumed his leadership post, Mr. McConnell suggested his counterpart was merely reaping what he had sown.
“I hope our colleague from New York is happy with what he’s built,” Mr. McConnell said. “I hope he’s happy with where his ingenuity has gotten the Senate.”