7 GOP senators agree to meet SCOTUS nominee Garland
Media outlets are spinning the news that up to 7 GOP Senators plan on meeting Obama SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland as a "revolt" of some sort. But that's not what's happening and Republicans should not jump to conclusions about what this means. Jordain Carney writes on The Hill:
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she agreed to meet with Garland after the White House reached out, but said such a meeting will take place after the Senate returns from its two-week recess in April.
“The White House has asked me to meet with him, and I've agreed to do so,” Collins said. “I've never refused an offer to meet with a nominee to the Supreme Court; that has always been my standard practice. And, so, I have accepted that offer, and it will be scheduled after the recess."
Asked if she thinks Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will change his mind, the Maine Republican said no.
"I don't see the majority leader changing his mind on this issue. He believes strongly that this should be a decision made by the next president. I don't agree with that decision, but I respect it,” she said. “The irony, however, will be if the next president, whoever that may be, ends up nominating a person who is far more liberal than Judge Garland, who is considered to be a centrist."
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also told reporters that he would meet with Garland, saying, "I meet with people. That's what I do."
Whether to meet with Garland is also splitting vulnerable Republicans who are at the center of the battle for control of the Senate.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), all of whom face tough reelection battles, each said Wednesday they were open to meeting with Garland.
Ayotte told Politico she would meet with the nominee out of "courtesy" and to explain why she thinks the seat should remain vacant until next year.
Kirk previously told The Hill he would meet with whomever Obama picked, and added Wednesday, "I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications."
Despite the early signs of division, McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) both said Republicans remain committed to keeping Scalia's seat vacant. McConnell and Cornyn, the Senate's top two Republicans, have said they wouldn't meet with Obama's pick.
Three of those Senators are facing tough re-election battles in blue states. Ayotte, Kirk, and Portman are playing the triangulation game -- appearing reasonable while not committing to anything at all. Their thinking is simple; why hand your opponent an easy issue to demagogue?
There will be no hearings on Garland's nomination. There will be no floor vote. Even if it got that far, there's no possible way Garland would be approved. So conservatives who are saying that this is just the first step in a GOP cave in on the nomination are either dreadfully uninformed or paranoid.
Since 2010, Republicans have blocked 95% of Obama's agenda -- blocked it to the point that the president has felt it necessary to try and rule by decree. The wildly exaggerated charges that Republican RINO's have given Obama everything he wants are ridiculous. If that were true, why all the executive orders? Why all the unilateral decrees from the White House? Immigration, carbon rules, EPA overreach on clean water, aspects of Obamacare implementation (including the insurance slush fund) and more have all been blocked by a solid GOP wall of resistance.
The idea that Obama has gotten everything he wants because Republicans fold is a talking point, not supported by the facts or reality. The conservative echo chamber ignores this however, and will point to these Senators meeting with Garland as a "betrayal." None of these Senators will ever vote to confirm at anti-gun zealot like Garland and conservatives who think so should take their meds and get a grip.