Sen. Kirk: GOP should 'man up' and vote on SCOTUS nominee

Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) took a swing at his party Friday, saying Republicans need to "man up" and give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a vote. 

"Just man up and cast a vote. The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes. Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why," he told “The Big John Howell Show” on WLS-AM in Chicago.
 
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The Illinois Republican, who faces a tough reelection bid, was quick to break with the party's strategy to block President Obama's Supreme Court pick from getting a hearing, a vote or, in most cases, a meeting. 
 
He told The Hill last month he would accept a meeting with the president's nominee and added this week that "I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications."
 
Kirk's seat is expected to be a top Democratic target in November.
 
Republican Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP defends Trump judicial nominee with no trial experience Bipartisan compromise is vital to the legislative process Senate GOP reveals different approach on tax reform MORE (Ohio), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteExplaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid Trump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada MORE (N.H.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock Tax bills speed up global tax race to the bottom Someone besides the president should have the nuclear codes MORE (Wis.), who also face tough reelection bids, have suggested they would be willing to meet with Garland but that they think the seat should remain empty until next year. 
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (Ky.) and other top Republicans remained adamant this week that the Senate would not take up Garland's nomination.
 
Kirk appeared to acknowledge that Friday. Asked about the potential for hearings, he said  "I think that given Mitch's view, I don't see his view changing too much. You know, eventually, we'll have an election and we will have a new president. The new president will obviously come forward with a nomination." 
 
Democrats were quick to pounce on his response, suggesting he needed to stand up to his party. 
 
"Sen. Kirk's refusal to demand his Republican colleagues provide Illinois native Judge Merrick Garland with a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote is an affront to Illinois voters," said Sean Savett, the Democratic Party of Illinois senior communications adviser. 
 
He added that if Kirk were "serious about fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities, he would publicly rebuke the strategy of the Republican Majority Leader he voted for, not predict the strategy's success."