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GOP leadership disagrees on whether they'd try to confirm a Supreme Court justice in 2020

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Sens. Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell disagree on whether the GOP would try to confirm a Supreme Court justice in a presidential election year, something they prevented Democrats from doing in 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fresh off the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, questions arose about what Republicans might do if another vacancy opens on the court in 2020 — and Republican leadership doesn't agree on what they'd do in that situation.

In 2016, Democrats attempted to fill the vacancy resulting from the passing of former Justice Antonin Scalia. Then-President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, but Republicans used their majority to prevent Garland from even getting a Senate hearing. He never had a shot of being confirmed.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the American people should have a say in the direction of the court, meaning no judge should be confirmed until a new president is elected.

"One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy,'" McConnell famously said in August 2016.

This week, McConnell left open the possibility that Republicans could confirm a nominee even in an election year, saying it wasn't about the fact that it was an election year; rather, it was about which party was in control of Congress.

“The Senate in the hands of one party and the White House in the hands of another in a presidential election year,” McConnell said, according to the Washington Examiner. “That is what we had in 2016.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a different perspective on the issue.

Grassley told Fox News on Tuesday that the committee would not take up a Supreme Court nomination in an election year if he is still the chairman.

His reason? Because of what the party did in the case of Merrick Garland's nomination.

"Because I pledged that in 2016," Grassley said. "That's a decision I made a long time ago."

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