GOP Senators: No hearing, no vote for Obama Court pick - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

GOP Senators: No hearing, no vote for Obama Court pick

Posted: Updated:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arrives for a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Republicans, most vocally Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are facing a high-stakes political sh Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, arrives for a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Republicans, most vocally Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are facing a high-stakes political sh
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks with reporters as he leaves a closed meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Repu Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks with reporters as he leaves a closed meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Repu
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa arrives for a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Republicans, most vocally Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are facing a high-stakes political sho Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa arrives for a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Senate Republicans, most vocally Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are facing a high-stakes political sho

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate will take no action on anyone President Barack Obama nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday as nearly all Republicans rallied behind his calls to leave the seat vacant for the next president to fill.

The announcement by McConnell, R-Ky., came after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee ruled out any hearing for an Obama pick.

"I agree with the Judiciary Committee's recommendation to not have hearings. In short, there will not be action taken," McConnell told reporters.

In a letter to McConnell, Judiciary panel Republicans wrote, "Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next president is sworn in on January 20, 2017."

Even the most divisive nominees for the high court have received a hearing before the Judiciary Committee, and the election-year decision to deny such a session is a sharp break with the Senate's traditional "advise and consent" role. A committee review and ahearing is the first step in the process.

The GOP action is certain to have repercussions, not only in the presidential race but congressional contests where vulnerable Senate incumbents in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire face tough Democratic challengers.

At least one of those senators, Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, has suggested holdinghearings, putting him at odds with fellow Republicans.

GOP members of the committee met with McConnell in a closed-door session and emerged with a simple message: "No hearing, no vote," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame-duck president," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's No. 2 Republican and like Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Hearings would be "a waste of time," added Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee are the most high profile in theSenate and any session is certain to be a spectacle. Among the members of the panel is Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and the Texas senator has vowed to block any nominee.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., when asked about hearings, said, "Oh why even put that ball on the field? All you're going to do is fumble it. Let the people decide."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was "absolutely" still possible the Senatewould hold hearings, pointing to a handful of Republicans who he said had expressed a willingness, including Kirk, Susan Collins of Maine, Dan Coats of Indiana and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

He said in the last day, Obama has spoken to Republican lawmakers, including some on the Judiciary Committee.

As a rationale for their decision, Republicans pointed to a 1992 speech by Vice President Joe Biden, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 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," said Biden, then the Delaware senator.

As it turned out, there was no opening on the court that year.

Earlier in the day, McConnell said his party won't permit a vote on any Supreme Courtnominee submitted by Obama and will instead "revisit the matter" after the presidential election in November.

"Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent," the majority leader said in a speech on the Senate floor. "In this case, the Senate will withhold it."

Scalia's unexpected Feb. 13 death ignited a major fight in Washington over whetherObama should be able to replace him in a presidential election year. McConnell offered one of the first salvos; Scalia had only been dead for a few hours when McConnell announced that he would oppose replacing him before the election.

But McConnell's remarks Tuesday were his first explicit statement that he would oppose a Senate vote.

McConnell was at the center of a battle a decade ago over Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees of President George W. Bush and, after Democrats took over the chamber in 2007, repeatedly said Bush's judges deserved up or down votes.

Top Judiciary Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the GOP's promised obstruction was unprecedented.

"During my time on the committee, we have never refused to send a Supreme Courtnominee to the full Senate for a confirmation vote, even when the majority of the committee opposed the nomination," Leahy said. "And once reported to the full Senate, every Supreme Court nominee has received an up or down confirmation vote during my more than four decades in the Senate."

___

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.