Senate Republicans will not “cut corners” in considering Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, an ally of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday as he did not rule out a vote before Election Day.
“We will move forward without delay,” Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas told “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “There will be a vote.”
“We’re not going to rush or cut corners. … We will move forward without delay in a deliberate fashion. We will process the president’s nominee, and I believe we will confirm that nominee,” Mr Cotton said.
When pressed several times, Mr Cotton did not guarantee a vote before 3 November, but he did note there have been times in US history when a Supreme Court confirmation process took fewer than the 44 days remaining before Election Day.
Mr McConnell is under pressure to follow the path he set in 2016, when he for 10 months blocked then-President Barack Obama’s final high court nominee, federal Judge Merrick Garland, arguing the people were about to pick a new president and Senate. But four years later, the Kentucky Republican is vowing to hold a vote on Mr Trump’s nominee as his term expires in late January.
Mr Cotton argued on Sunday morning that things are different this time because in 2016, there was a GOP-run Senate elected as a “check” on Mr Obama. This time, voters elected a Republican president while continuing a GOP majority in the Senate.
“There could not have been a clearer mandate,” he said, noting voters “expanded our majority.”
“We have a clear mandate to perform our constitutional duty,” he said. “That’s what we did back in 2016, as well.”
Notably, the Arkansas senator, a lawyer by trade, said he asked the White House to take his name out of consideration for the seat vacated by Ms Ginsburg’s death.
The president confirmed as much on Saturday when he told supporters at a rally in North Carolina he expects to nominate a woman to the seat.
Meantime, Democratic Senator Chris Coons said he is personally reaching out to Republican senators to try and get at least four to break with Mr McConnell and the president. That’s how many would be required to vote with Democrats to shoot down the coming nominee and kick the matter until after Election DAy – and possibly beyond Inauguration Day and the date a few weeks prior when a new Senate would be seated.
Mr McConnell has acknowledged in recent week that Republicans holding control of the upper chamber is looking increasingly difficult. That means if enough Republican senators say they oppose a quick vote, a Democratic-run Senate could inherit a Trump nominee.
“The Republican majority set this new precedent. They worked hard for it,” Mr Coons said. “The chairman of the Judiciary [Committee], [Lindsey] Graham, restated it in 2018,” Mr Coons said. “Fair is fair. I think the Republican majority should live with the precedent they set in 2016.”
Some Congress watchers say Democrats could try a number of procedural moves to try delaying a final, simple-majority vote on the coming nominee. Asked if Democrats are mulling such actions, Mr Coons said only: “It shouldn’t come to that.”