Senate's Responsibility to Confirm Supreme Court Nominee 'Ironclad,' White House Says

PHOTO: Eric Schultz speaks to the media in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Feb. 16, 2015.PlayABC News
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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- The White House is pushing back against Senate Republicans vowing to block President Obama's eventual nominee to the Supreme Court in the wake of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, insisting that doing so would be a dereliction of their oath of office.

"Those responsibilities described in the Constitution are ironclad," said White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz Monday. "There are no caveats. The Constitution does not include exemptions for election years or the President's last term in office."

But with the GOP in complete control of the Senate, multiple Republican lawmakers have vowed to block any hearings or votes on any nominee put forth by the president.

Schultz, however, expressed confidence that those lawmakers would eventually cave before allowing a vacancy to remain open through January of 2017.

"I do understand your skepticism here because we do know this is a Republican Congress that has a lot of practice saying 'no,'" Schultz told reporters. "This is not the first time that Republicans have come out with a whole lot of bluster, only to have reality ultimately sink in."

Schultz even went as far to quote former President Ronald Reagan, who told Congress in 1988 that failing to fully staff the court “impairs the people’s business in that crucially important body.”

However, when confronted with past instances when Democrats had called for a hold on confirming nominees when a Republican was president, or when then-Sen. Obama filibustered Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in 2006, Schultz said “he’s seen a lot of quotes moving back and forth.”

“I think what we’ve seen over the past 24 hours is something entirely different,” Schultz said. “Which is Republicans abjectly objecting to even the President putting forth a nominee.”