Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said if he’s still the head of the panel in 2020, he won’t allow a Supreme Court vacancy to be filled that election year — which puts him at odds with the Republican leader of the Senate.
“If I’m chairman, they won’t take it up. No, because I pledged that in 2016, that if the ball’s the same as it is,” the Iowa Republican told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Tuesday. “Now, if somebody else is the chairman of the committee, they’ll have to decide for themselves. But that’s a decision I made a long time ago.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016 blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death because the 2016 presidential election was ahead and he said voters should make their opinion known about which candidate should make the nomination.
But during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” McConnell refused to be pinned down on whether he would try to confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year.
“We’ll see if there’s a vacancy in 2020,” he said.
On Monday, he suggested that precedent doesn’t hold when a Republican is in the White House and the GOP controls the Senate.
“The tradition going back to the 1880s has been if a vacancy occurs in a presidential election year, and there is a different party in control of the Senate than the presidency, it is not filled,” McConnell said during a speech Monday.
If Grassley leaves as head of the committee, he could be replaced by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Washington Post reported.
Graham said last week that if he were the chair, he would wait in 2020 to fill an opening.
“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election,” he said.
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