Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects the Senate would hold a confirmation vote for a Supreme Court nominee if a Democrat wins in 2020.
Though he cautioned that confirmation is a different question, he said it would be “unsustainable” to refuse a new president a floor vote on a Supreme Court nomination.
“I can’t imagine any scenario under which — in the early part of a president’s term you would not have a vote,” McConnell told reporters. “That doesn’t mean the person would necessarily be confirmed.”
Should a Democrat win the presidency while Republicans retain the Senate, McConnell said the best course of action would be extended discussions between both sides in hopes of producing a consensus nominee.
“I would guess there would be much more consultation and much more back-and-forth discussion in a situation like that,” McConnell said.
Two left-leaning justices on the high court are in retirement range — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 86 and Justice Stephen Breyer is 80. Former President Bill Clinton appointed both justices to the Court.
Democratic 2020 contenders were largely at a loss when asked how they would navigate McConnell and his Republican majority during the first round of primary debates in Miami. Several candidates vaguely promised to lead progressives in mass political action that could cause Republicans to buckle.
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said she would make Congress “reflect the will of the people” by applying pressure from inside and outside Congress on GOP lawmakers. Similarly, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to lead Democrats into red states to court conservative voters and pressure their Republican representatives.
Whether Republicans will keep control of the Senate in 2020 is an open question. The GOP is defending 22 of the 33 seats on the ballot, with vulnerable incumbents in Arizona and Colorado. However, Democrats have struggled to recruit marquee talent for Senate races, with promising recruits like former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper forgoing Senate campaigns in favor of presidential bids.
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