During a heated exchange with a Democratic senator, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday that the committee will debate on Thursday how Republicans are handling the prospect of President Obama nominating a Supreme Court justice.
Grassley appeared to be anticipating the chance Democrats committee members will get to lay into him at the previously scheduled Thursday meeting.
“If you want to hear a full-blown debate on this issue, I think we’ll probably have one before our committee tomorrow while we’re also considering three of four judges and a piece of legislation as well,” Grassley said during a hearing with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, according to The Hill.
Grassley made the comment after the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), brought up Republicans’ decision not to hold hearings on Obama’s nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.
“Our hearing today is on the Justice Department, but what looms large is whether this committee will do its job to fairly consider the next nominee to the Supreme Court,” Leahy said during his opening statement, according to the Washington Post. “I hope that we will, for the good of this country and our entire justice system.”
Leahy criticized Republicans for making the decision to block Obama’s nominee at a GOP caucus meeting.
“The Republican members met behind closed doors to unilaterally decide, without any input from this committee, that this committee and the Senate as a whole will refuse to consider any nominee this year,” Leahy said, according to Politico. “It’s a dereliction of our Constitutional duty.”
This comment sparked a response from Grassley.
“I assume that the Democrat members have their caucus to talk about how their members feel about respective issues and I’ve never been invited to a Democrat Caucus and I don’t think that Democrat caucus is open to the public,” Grassley said, according to The Hill. “Tomorrow, I think we’re going to have debate.”
A spokeswoman for the Judiciary Committee confirmed to The Hill that senators will discuss the issue at a business meeting on Thursday when the committee is slated to discuss lower court nominees.