Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are already feeling the pressure as both Republicans and Democrats lobby them hard to vote for or against President Donald Trump’s eventual pick to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat, according to a Thursday Politico report.
White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly called both lawmakers to feel out their thinking on the issue. Both were brought into a meeting of bipartisan senators Thursday evening with the President to discuss the vacancy. Murkowski was also sought out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday for a private discussion.
“There’s pressure because of the gravity of such a nomination,” Murkowski told Politico. “I am not going to suggest that my opportunity as a senator in the advise and consent process is somehow or other short-cutted just because this is a Republican president and I’m a Republican.”
“This is what goes on in the Senate. Sometimes you’re in the pressure cooker,” she added.
“No matter how I vote there are going to be people who are furious at me,” Collins told Politico. She said that she won’t just blithely walk the party line because “it’s a Supreme Court nominee. It’s not the assistant deputy secretary for weights and measures at the Commerce Department. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. It matters.”
Both women reportedly want Trump to expand his pool of candidates beyond his current list, which is full of judges who would move the court sharply to the right.
Due to the small Republican Senate majority and Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) illness-induced absence, the two moderates hold enormous power. In the past, they voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation but were also instrumental in sinking Republicans’ Obamacare repeal.
“As much as you can, find somebody Collins and Murkowski can support,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Politico. Because “I think we ought to plan to get this done with Republican votes.”