Dems to Obama: Make court pick ASAP
© Anne Wernikoff

Democratic senators met with senior aides to President Obama on Thursday, urging the White House to make a Supreme Court nomination as soon as possible.

After huddling with Obama’s aides, members of the Judiciary Committee suggested Republicans would face increased pressure to back down from their blockade of the president's nominee once a name is put forward. 

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“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 LeahySenate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Live coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators AT&T, senators spar over customers' right to sue MORE (Vt.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, told reporters after the meeting. 

“I think the American public — Republicans and Democrats alike — are going to say, ‘do your job.’ ”

Obama is expected to make a nomination any day to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He has reportedly begun to interview a handful of federal judges for the post. 

The president said Thursday at a press conference, "it’s important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it’s important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices."

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOPINION | How Democrats stole the nation's lower federal courts OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? Lawmakers send McCain well wishes after cancer diagnosis MORE (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said the group did not discuss specific names on Obama’s list. He stressed the president must have enough time to properly vet his nominee, but added that “in terms of timing, we'd like someone as soon as possible."

White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughTrump administration must release Clinton emails State Department tried to hide Sunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week Obama chief of staff: 'The president cannot order a wiretap' MORE, senior adviser Brian Deese, legislative affairs director Amy Rosenbaum and White House counsel Neil Eggleston met with the group of senators. 

The meeting came after the Judiciary Committee held a business meeting to debate the merits of moving forward with the president’s nominee. 

Republicans are standing by their vow not to hold hearings or a vote for Obama’s nominee, arguing it should be up to the next president to replace Scalia.

That has prompted speculation Obama and his Democratic allies could wage a PR war to punish the GOP at the polls in the November elections. 

"Why all this ‘outrage’ about a hearing?” Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump Jr., Manafort reach deal to avoid public hearing next week Senate panel subpoenas co-founder of firm tied to controversial Trump dossier Trump Jr., Manafort still haven't agreed to testify before Senate panel MORE (R-Iowa) said during the meeting. “Why the ‘demands’ for a hearing that everyone knows would never result in a confirmation? It’s because the other side is committed to using this process to score as many political points as possible. That’s it. Plain and simple.”

Schumer acknowledged the tenor of the debate “is playing in favor” of Democrats, but he said it’s “our fondest hope is that our Republican colleagues will relent.”

—Lydia Wheeler contributed.