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

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio 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 PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (Ohio), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (N.H.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Republicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years 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. 
 
 
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."