Five years after blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reportedly will vote to confirm the judge as attorney general.
McConnell was asked by Politico on Tuesday if he supported Garland, who was nominated by President Joe Biden.
“I do,” McConnell said without elaborating.
McConnell’s announcement could encourage more Republican senators to vote for Garland.
In 2016, Garland was nominated by then-President Barack Obama to to fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell, then Senate majority leader, argued the high court’s future should be left to the American people in a presidential election year, and with the White House and Senate controlled by different parties.
“President Obama and his allies may now try to pretend this disagreement is about a person,” McConnell said at the time. “The decision the Senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle, not a person.”
After Donald Trump was elected president, Republicans filled Scalia’s former seat with Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
McConnell has called his decision to block Garland as the “most consequential thing I’ve ever done.”
Some Republicans criticized Garland for not answering enough questions during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s two-day confirmation hearing this week.
However, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, said they will back Garland to lead the Justice Department.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the judiciary committee, spoke positively of Garland on Monday.
The Justice Department last weekend released a list of law enforcement groups supporting Garland for attorney general. The list included the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump for president in 2016 and last year.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a committee vote on Garland’s nomination next Monday. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he hoped for final confirmation next week.
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