During a Tuesday meeting at the White House with President Obama, GOP Senate leaders remained unbowed in refusing to consider his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to top Democrats present.
“They were adamant. They said no, we are not going to do this at all. We are going to do what has never been done before,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters at a stakeout after Tuesday’s meeting, according to the White House pool report. “All we want them to do is fulfill their constitutional duty and do their job. At this phase they have decided not to do that.”
Reid sat in the meeting with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, which typically considers Supreme Court nominations — was also present.
“The president is going to fulfill his constitutional duty. The Senate is supposed to fulfill theirs. Have the hearing. Vote it down. Don’t pretend it doesn’t happen,” Leahy said at the stakeout, according to the White House pool report.
Reid also said that the GOP senators did not bring any names of potential nominees for Obama to consider.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest confirmed that the President had told Republicans we would consider any names they offered, the Washington Post reported.
“If they want to come back to the Oval Office I am confident we could arrange a meeting,” Earnest said.
The Republicans in attendance at the meeting did not participate in the stakeout and signaled they would comment later when they were back on Capitol Hill, according to reporters at the White House.
GOP Senators chose not to talk to reporters at the WH. Would comment later on Cap Hill.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 1, 2016
In the morning before the meeting, McConnell said from the Senate floor that “the American people will have a voice in the vacancy on the Supreme Court as they choose the next President who in turn will nominate the next Supreme Court justice.” He also published an op-ed Tuesday morning reiterating his argument for blocking the nomination process until a new president is inaugurated. Grassley, meanwhile, wrote on SCOTUSBlog Tuesday morning that Senate Republicans would “ensure” that the American people had “opportunity during this election year to weigh in” on the next nominee.
Democrats, meanwhile, have shifted their criticism to highlight that Donald Trump is likely to be the GOP 2016 nominee.
“They think they are going to wait and see what President Trump will do I guess as far as the nomination is concerned,” Reid said at the stakeout.