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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite Democratic objections that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett’s nomination  already appeared to have enough votes for confirmation from Senate Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber. But Murkowski’s nod gives her a boost of support. Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is now expected to vote against the conservative judge.

“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said. The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in U.S. history so close to a presidential election. Calling it a “sham,” Democrats mounted procedural hurdles to slow it down. But the minority party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s confirmation, which is set to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted the political rancor, but defended his handling of the process. “Our recent debates have been heated, but curiously talk of Judge Barrett’s actual credentials or qualifications are hardly featured,” McConnell said. He called her one of the most “impressive” nominees for public office “in a generation.” Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned Republicans the only way to remove the “stain” of their action would be to “withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election.”

With the nation experiencing a surge of COVID-19  cases, Democrats made several unsuccessful attempts to force the Senate to set aside the judicial fight Saturday and instead consider coronavirus relief legislation, including the House-passed Heroes Act that would pump money into schools, hospitals and jobless benefits and provide other aid.  Majority Republicans turned aside those efforts and kept Barrett’s confirmation on track.

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