Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he’d work to fill a Supreme Court seat if one came up during the 2020 presidential election — even after not filling a seat during the Obama administration in 2016.
McConnell made the statement while speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce event in Kentucky on Tuesday.
“If a Supreme Court justice was to die next year, what would you do?” an audience member asked McConnell as he took a long sip of iced tea.
“Ah, we’d fill it,” McConnell answered and grinned for a few seconds.
The audience burst into laughter after his answer, video of the event shows.
McConnell drew a backlash from Democrats in 2016 when he refused to bring Obama-nominated Merrick Garland up to a confirmation vote ahead of the presidential election.
McConnell’s spokesperson, David Popp, noted after Tuesday’s comment that his statement was consistent with his past statements about the possibility of filling a Supreme Court seat in 2020 when he didn’t hold a vote in 2016..
“What the leader did today is emphasize what he has said since October,” Popp said.
Circumstances in 2020 are different to 2016 because Republicans currently control both the Senate and the presidency, McConnell has argued. In October he said that a Senate tradition says that during a presidential election year, opposition parties in control of the Senate should not confirm a nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, blasted McConnell as a “hypocrite” after his Tuesday remarks.
“@SenateMajLdr McConnell lives for GOP judges because he knows the GOP agenda is so radical & unpopular they can only achieve it in courts,” Schumer wrote on Twitter.
“Anyone who believes he’d ever allow confirmation of a Dem President’s nominee for SCOTUS is fooling themselves,” he added.
Seriously it’s no surprise.@SenateMajLdr McConnell lives for GOP judges because he knows the GOP agenda is so radical & unpopular they can only achieve it in courts.
Anyone who believes he’d ever allow confirmation of a Dem President’s nominee for SCOTUS is fooling themselves.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 29, 2019
Author: Ben Feuerherd