WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that his party won’t permit a vote on any Supreme Court nominee submitted by President Barack Obama and will instead “revisit the matter” after the presidential election in November.
The Kentucky Republican acknowledged that Obama is within his rights to nominate a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia but said Republicans controlling the Senate would exercise their rights.
“Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “In this case, the Senate will withhold it.”
McConnell quoted a 1992 Senate speech by Vice President Joe Biden, then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a Delaware senator, in which Biden said that in a presidential election year the Senate should “not consider holding hearings until after the election. Instead, it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”
In response, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused McConnell of taking his cues from Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. On the day of Scalia’s death, Trump told a debate audience that the Senate should “delay, delay, delay.”
Scalia’s unexpected death Feb. 13 ignited a major fight in Washington over whether Obama should be able to replace him in a presidential election year.
However, it was later revealed that Obama and a team of Senate Democrats tried to filibuster former President George W. Bush’s appointment of now-Justice Samuel Alito in 2006. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama now regrets his past decision.