Politics

Reid: Democrats Considering Forcing Votes on Supreme Court Nominee

Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court in March

Reid, left, and Garland, right, met in March. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that Democrats are considering procedural moves to force a vote on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

 

"We have a couple of options and we're deciding when to do that — and if we should do that," Reid told reporters on a conference call.

 

The Democratic leader said Republicans have "one last shot" to act on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court when Congress returns to the nation's capital in September. Lawmakers are currently back in their home states for a seven-week recess.  

 

Obama nominated Garland to the bench in March, following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February. Republican senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have refused to hold a hearing or a vote on Garland's nomination.

 

McConnell recently said at political gathering in Kentucky, "One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'"

 

"Proudest moment?" Reid said Thursday. "I can't imagine that."

 

Reid said Senate Republicans were leaving the vacancy open for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump to fill.

 

"As radical as unfit as he is, they’re going to let Trump do that,” Reid said.

 

Trump did release a list of his potential court nominees in May. Top Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said they were impressed by his choices.

 

Grassley said in late March that he expected Democrats would try and force a vote on Garland's nomination through a maneuver known as a motion to discharge, to take the nomination out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the Senate floor. 

 

The motion would be subject to debate, meaning 60 votes would be required for the motion to move forward. Reaching that threshold would be unlikely as Democrats only hold 46 seats.

 

In April, Reid did not rule out using such a measure, but said Democrats were "in a good place." 

 

Senate Democrats have argued that Republicans would eventually back down, and vulnerable GOP incumbents would persuade McConnell and Grassley to take up Garland's nomination. Though several GOP senators agreed to meet with Garland, they have not budged on their position to block his nomination.

 

Reid says he has been in touch with some senators over the recess to determine "when and if" they should use procedural maneuvers to put Republicans on the record regarding Garland's nomination.

 

 

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc.

 

 

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