Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid today continued to pressure Republicans to change course and allow consideration of President Obama’s looming nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, even baiting the GOP by accusing them of waiting to “see what President Trump will do.”
“They think that they're going to wait and see what President Trump will do, I guess, as far as a nomination,” Reid charged after a bipartisan meeting of Senate Democratic and Republican leaders with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
“The Republican Party is changing before our eyes. Donald Trump, Cruz, Rubio, they're all on the same kettle. They're all agreeing with Trump in one way or another. So we're seeing before our eyes a new Republican Party.”
Democrats railed against Republicans for refusing the president’s coming nomination, suggesting they’re shirking their constitutional responsibilities.
“[Republicans] were willing to meet with the president. It looks like they could at least meet with the president's nominee,” Reid said, adding that he expects the president’s decision to come “very quickly.”
“They won't nominate, and we're going to continue beating the drums. All we want them to do is to fulfill their constitutional duty and do their job.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, added, “The president's going to fulfill his constitutional duty, the Senate's supposed to fulfill theirs. Have the hearing. Vote up. Vote it down.”
The Republican participants in the meeting -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley -- did not talk with reporters before leaving the White House, but in a written statement, Grassley argued that voters “deserve the right to be heard,” given the results of the 2014 midterm election, when Democrats lost the Senate majority.
“Whether everybody in the meeting today wanted to admit it, we all know that considering a nomination in the middle of a heated presidential campaign is bad for the nominee, bad for the court, bad for the process, and ultimately bad for the nation,” Grassley, R-Iowa, noted. “It’s time for the people to voice their opinion about the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system of government.”
It does not seem like the meeting was very productive, given the Democrats’ perception of the discussion.
“We killed a lot of time talking about basketball and other stuff,” Reid answered when asked how long the meeting lasted.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest indicated the president was not surprised by the productivity of the meeting, calling it “pretty straight forward.”
“No one represented that he was about to change his position on something, but the president did use the opportunity to lay out his thinking, and he gave everyone in the room, Democrats and Republicans, the opportunity to put forward their own suggestions for potential Supreme Court nominees,” Earnest told reporters at today’s daily press briefing.
“The president didn't guarantee that he would choose that person, but the president did indicate that he would take seriously any recommendations that either Democrats or Republicans had to put forward.”