Reid: Garland Confirmation Unlikely in January

Minority leader suggests Clinton could nominate someone else if elected

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has recommended that Hillary Clinton renominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if she’s elected. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

RENO, Nev. — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview Monday that if Judge Merrick Garland is not confirmed to the Supreme Court in the lame-duck session, there would be no real way to confirm him in the short window between the swearing-in of the new Congress and the arrival of the next president.

The Nevada Democrat also opened the door to the possibility that should she be elected, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might nominate someone else to fill the seat that’s been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February.

“I’ve heard that. I don’t think there’ll be any cute tricks like that. I think the point is that if the Republicans hold up Merrick Garland  this notable, qualified man  then we’re going to have to wait to see who, if she renominates him or somebody else,” Reid said. “But it’s really hard. It’s hard procedurally unless you have a majority to do something before the Senate’s organized.”

Reid has previously recommended that Clinton renominate Garland, the chief judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and told reporters that he was confident Clinton would do so.

Senate Republicans have been adamantly opposed to taking up Garland’s nomination in the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration. With the court evenly split between conservative and liberal justices, Republicans have argued that the American people should decide the direction of the court through the presidential election.

Democrats have chided Republicans for blocking Garland’s nomination, arguing that the GOP senators are not fulfilling their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent for judicial nominees. 

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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