Kagan Vote Unlikely Before Holiday; Byrd Funeral Affects Hearings Schedule

Funeral plans for the late Sen. Robert Byrd will affect the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings schedule Thursday and Friday, and Republican sources say it is very unlikely that the committee will vote on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination until after the Fourth of July recess.

Senators will attend a Capitol service for Byrd on Thursday morning, and President Obama and Vice President Biden will also pay tribute to Byrd before his body is flown home to West Virginia on Friday.

While the Judiciary Committee schedule is subject to change, it was being rumored Wednesday afternoon on Capitol Hill that the Kagan hearings would not convene — with testimony from witnesses — until 4 p.m. Thursday. As for Friday’s schedule, one Washington source remarked that in his experience "nothing in the world" can stop legislators anxious to get out of town for a holiday recess.

A second source, on Capitol Hill, was unable to confirm the start time for Thursday’s hearings, but said it is doubtful that Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would seek a Friday vote on Kagan’s nomination. "I’d be very surprised," the second source said.

The first source said that Republicans have not "completely" ruled out a filibuster of Kagan’s nomination. Revelations about Kagan’s 1996 involvement in partial-birth abortion policy may have helped stiffen GOP opposition, and could cause problems for Kagan with pro-life Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Following the recess for the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate is expected to reconvene July 12. The 10-day break will permit senators to hear from their home-state constituents.