Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Dems dig in over Zika funding Business groups ramp up pressure to fill Ex-Im board Senate Dems: No August break without Zika deal MORE spoke by phone with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Wednesday despite opposition to taking up his nomination.
McConnell speaks with SCOTUS nominee
"Rather than put Judge Garland through more unnecessary political routines orchestrated by the White House, the Leader decided it would be more considerate of the nominee’s time to speak with him today by phone," according to a summary of the call from Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell.
Stewart added that because Republicans will not take up the nomination, "[McConnell] would not be holding a perfunctory meeting, but he wished Judge Garland well."
President Obama announced Garland — who is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — as his pick to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia earlier Wednesday.
McConnell quickly took to the Senate floor to shoot down any notion that Republicans would give Garland a hearing or a vote.
Stewart added that during the call with Garland, the Republican leader "reiterated his position that the American people will have a voice in this vacancy and that the Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the person the next President nominates."
Top Republicans, including McConnell, have for weeks said they wouldn't consider anyone the president nominates, despite pressure from Democrats.
A handful of Senate Republicans, however, suggested Wednesday they are willing to meet with Garland or at least consider his nomination.
Democrats were quick to pounce, suggesting the comments marked early signs of division that McConnell would eventually reverse course.
“Republicans are backing down so quickly that they’re already bargaining about what month they will fully cave and confirm Judge Garland. There is no good reason for Republicans to waste any more of the American people’s time," Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Finance: Obama signs Puerto Rico bill | Trump steps up attacks on trade | Dodd-Frank backers cheer 'too big to fail' decision | New pressure to fill Ex-Im board Iowa poll: Clinton up 14 on Trump, Grassley in tight race with Dem Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton creates firestorm for email case MORE (D-Nev.) said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon. “Senator McConnell will cave and President Obama will fill this vacancy this year.”