McConnell: Senate will vote on Supreme Court nominee this fall

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Poll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Senate will vote in the fall to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall 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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech 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 HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection this year in states won by Trump in 2016 — voted for Gorsuch last year.