McConnell: Senate will vote on Supreme Court nominee this fall

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Senate will vote in the fall to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown 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 McCainCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Trump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote 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 HeitkampHeitkamp highlights anti-human trafficking bill in new ad Midterm polling data favors Democrats — in moderation This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh MORE (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection this year in states won by Trump in 2016 — voted for Gorsuch last year.