Sen. John Thune on Supreme Court Vacancy: Despite Schumer, ‘We Will Fill that Seat’

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

PHILADELPHIA – The chairman of the Senate Republican Conference told reporters Wednesday at the joint retreat for GOP senators and congressmen in Philadelphia that Republicans will overcome Democratic opposition to President Donald J. Trump filling the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

“We intend, when we have a nominee, and we don’t, but I expect that we will in the very near future, to get that nominee confirmed,” said Sen. John R. Thune (R.-S.D.). “We are committed to that in the United States Senate.”

President Donald J. Trump Tweeted earlier in the day that he would release the name of his choice to replace Justice Antonin G. Scalia one week from Thursday.

Thune said he was heartened by the meeting Tuesday at the White House hosted by the president with Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.Ky.), Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Sen. Charles Grassley (R.-Iowa) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.), who is the vice-chairwoman of the committee.

The senator said he also expects other opportunities to coordinate with Democrats regarding the current vacancy that opened upon the Feb. 13, 2016 passing Scalia.

Despite Thune’s optimism, Schumer remains hostile to Trump putting a conservative on the high court.

Sunday the Senates’s top Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he and the Democrats would block any Trump appointment that was outside of the mainstream.

“If the nominee is outside the mainstream, we will do our best to keep the seat open,” the New Yorker said. “We will fight tooth and nail if we have to.”

The Republicans control the Senate 52-to-48, which is enough to pass all presidential nominees, except for Supreme Court justices. In 2013, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) executed a change to the Senate rules that removed the 60-vote requirement to end debate and proceed to a vote that had applied to all nominations. Although Republicans criticized Reid’s move in 2013, when they took over the chamber after the 2014 midterms, they declined to revert to the old rules–leaving the Supreme Court as the last vestige of the parliamentary tactic that had delayed or blocked nominees for decades.

As it now stands, as long as Schumer controls 41 votes, he can stop Trump’s nominee.

Breitbart News asked the senator directly how long Republicans would allow Schumer to hold the Supreme Court seat vacant–and would the GOP senators consider taking Reid’s rule change all the way, clearing the path for Scalia’s replacement.

Thune did not address the rules change directly, but he did say: “We will fill that seat.”


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