Pelosi: GOP's 'disrespect' for Obama 'knows no bounds'

Pelosi: GOP's 'disrespect' for Obama 'knows no bounds'
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed Senate Republicans on Thursday for their refusal to consider President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court.

Pelosi said the Republicans' strategy of waiting for the next president to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia marks a "breathtaking" case of neglect that "flies in the face" of their constitutional duties. 

"Republicans' contempt for functioning government and their disrespect for the president knows no bounds," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "Evidently it isn't enough for Republicans to merely shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They must sabotage the Supreme Court, too." 

Responding to reports that Obama is considering Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, Pelosi endorsed the idea of reaching across the aisle.

"I don't know that the president is considering Gov. Sandoval," she said. "Yes, I think it's a good idea for the president to consider a Republican, or a Democrat, to the court."

Sandoval on Thursday reportedly dropped out of consideration for the court seat.

Behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Ky.), Republicans say they won't meet with Obama's eventual nominee, nor will they hold hearings or stage a vote on his pick. The consequences are too significant, they argue, to grant such power to a final-year president amid a high-stakes election to fill his shoes.

“We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame-duck president," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Texas) said this week. 

The Republicans are pointing to past comments from a long list of Democratic leaders — including Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenKentucky candidate takes heat for tweeting he'd like to use congressman for target practice The Hill's 12:30 Report Biden hosting fundraiser in Miami MORE — who have occasionally argued against filling a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year.

Pelosi is joining other Democratic leaders in rejecting the GOP's argument, saying there's a sharp distinction between voting down a nominee and refusing to consider one at all.

"I don't remember anybody saying the president should not appoint, and we will not even interview his appointee; we will not have a hearing. That's what I'm talking about obstruction," she said. "To say, 'We're never going to interview anyone he names, and we're not going to have a hearing on the subject,' … that flies in the face of what the intention was of Congress."  

A number of Democrats have argued that the Republicans' refusal to consider Obama's pick carries hints of racism. That list includes Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAnti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (I-Vt.), the presidential hopeful, and Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldSenate passes bill to end shutdown, sending it to House House Dem opposition mounts to budget deal Shutdown begins after Paul pushes back Senate vote MORE (D-N.C.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Pelosi, for her part, stopped short of lobbing charges of racism. But she suggested there are valid reasons to think race is a factor in the Supreme Court fight, and she accused the Republicans of obstructing Obama from his first days in office.

"He has extended the hand of friendship over and over again, and they have rejected that. And it's hard to understand why," she said. 

"I don't know if I go to that point [of charging racism]," Pelosi added. "I respect the views of those who hold it, though."