McConnell: Senate will vote on Supreme Court nominee this fall

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Senate will vote in the fall to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE's forthcoming nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent … We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Kennedy announced on Wednesday afternoon that he is retiring after more than 30 years on the court, kicking off what is sure to be a vicious confirmation battle in the lead-up to the midterm elections.

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Trump, who said he spoke with Kennedy for about half an hour at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, told reporters that the search for Kennedy's successor will begin "immediately."

McConnell laid down early guidelines for consideration of the forthcoming nomination, saying while senators would be able to meet with the nominee, he expected Trump's pick to be treated "fairly."

"It's imperative that the president's nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks," McConnell added.

Democrats will face intense pressure to use every procedural tool to stall and slow-walk Trump's pick.

But Republicans went "nuclear" and got rid of the 60-vote procedural hurdle when they confirmed Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, meaning Democrats can't block Trump's forthcoming pick without help from Republicans.

Republicans have a slim 51-seat majority. With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (R-Ariz.) battling brain cancer, their caucus is effectively capped at 50 votes.

That means Democrats would need to win over at least one GOP senator — as well as keep their caucus united — if they wanted to be able to sink Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Overnight Health Care: Official defends suspending insurer payments | What Kavanaugh's nomination means for ObamaCare | Panel approves bill to halt employer mandate Dems in terrible bind on Kavanaugh nomination MORE (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection this year in states won by Trump in 2016 — voted for Gorsuch last year.