WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mocked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Wednesday for widening the interpretation of a Senate policy, started by Joe Biden, that keeps an outgoing administration from appointing a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of that administration’s term.
“I noticed my counterpart Senator Schumer announced yesterday that their goal was to apparently never fill the Supreme Court vacancy. That’s kind of an expansion of the Biden rule. If you recall the Biden rule—in 1992 was the Senate would not confirm the Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election year, which was my view last year. Senator Bush said in the second Bush administration they would not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the last 18 months of President Bush 43’s tenure,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday at his weekly presser.
He added, “Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I don’t think the American people will tolerate it and we look forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.”
Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday the Democrats would block any Supreme Court nominee they considered to be “out of the mainstream.”
“We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee. If they don’t appoint someone who is really good, we’re going to oppose him tooth-and-nail,” he said.
“Now then, they won’t have 60 votes to put in an out-of-the-mainstream nominee, and then they’ll have to make a choice: Change the rules… We are not going to make it easy on them to pick a Supreme Court justice,” Schumer said.
When asked by Maddow if he would be willing to “hold the seat open,” Schumer replied, “Absolutely.”
Schumer added, “It’s hard for me to imagine, a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support, that we could support.”
Republicans currently have 52 seats in the new Congress, so some Democrats would need to be picked off in order to move Supreme Court nominations forward. However, Democrats may be risking seats with this tactic, as 25 of their caucus members are up for re-election in 2018 and Trump won 10 states that 25 of those Senators hail from. Republicans, on the other hand, are defending just eight seats next election cycle.