President Obama isn’t committed to announcing his Supreme Court nominee before departing on a high-profile trip to Cuba next weekend, despite pleas from Senate Democrats to make a quick decision.
“Not necessarily,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One when asked whether a pick will come before Obama departs for Cuba on March 20.
Obama is expected top put forth his nominee any day, but the exact timing of an announcement remains unclear.
But he also made it clear he won’t be rushed into a decision.
“I don’t feel constrained in terms of the pool to draw from or that I’m having to take shortcuts in terms of the selection and vetting process,” he said.
Earnest delivered a cryptic response when asked whether Obama has settled on a nominee and is waiting to make an announcement or is still deciding which candidate to choose.
“The process of reviewing information about potential nominees continues,” he said.
The debliberate approach is meant to contrast with the snap judgement made by Senate Republicans who, in the days after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, pledged to hold no hearings or votes for any Obama nominee
Senate Democrats are urging the president to announce his choice to replace Scalia.
They believe Republicans would face increased pressure to back down from their blockade of the president's nominee once a name is put forward.
“I think it’s going to be public pressure, it’s not going to be something that we can or cannot do,” Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyTop senators want details on probe of DNC breach The Hill's 12:30 Report NBA pulls All-Star Game from NC over bathroom law MORE (Vt.) told reporters Thursday after a meeting with senior White House officials.
“I think the American public — Republicans and Democrats alike — are going to say, ‘do your job.’ ”
Senators are also feeling urgency because the upper chamber is scheduled to go on break for two weeks, starting March 19.