Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged GOP senators in a letter Friday night to “keep your powder dry” as they decide whether to proceed with a potential nominee from President Donald Trump to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Of the 53 Republicans in the Senate, McConnell could only lose four, and both Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins have indicated that they wouldn’t vote on a potential SCOTUS pick so close to an election. Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham have expressed similar sentiments in the past, but have not weighed in yet since Ginsburg’s death.
“Over the coming days, we are all going to come under tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination,” McConnell wrote in the letter. “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry.” He urged them not to “lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”
The text of that Dear Colleague letter from McConnell to GOP senators pic.twitter.com/OMaYP9XKqW
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 19, 2020
Responding to critics who accuse Republicans of hypocrisy for holding off on former President Barack Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland four years ago, McConnell argued that the Senate followed “the Biden rule in 2016, which provided that the Senate would not fill Supreme Court vacancies that arise in president election years when the presidency and the Senate majority are held by opposing parties.”
“Indeed, as I said beginning in February 2016, you have to go back to 1888 when Grover Cleveland was president to find an example of filling a vacancy that arose in an election year when the presidency and Senate majority were held by opposing parties,” he wrote. (RELATED: Schumer, Waters Warn Republicans Not To Try To Fill Ginsburg’s Seat Before Election)
The Senate majority leader also stressed that there is enough time to confirm a potential nominee, noting Ginsburg herself only took 50 days to confirm.