Grassley: McConnell owes me for judicial nominations

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Big Ten moves to conference-only model for all fall sports Republicans considering an outdoor stadium for Florida convention: report MORE (R-Iowa) said Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding MORE (R-Ky.) should get on board with criminal justice reform legislation, arguing the Senate leader owes him for a wave of judicial nominations.

Grassley noted that Republicans have been successful at confirming Trump's judicial picks — including two Supreme Court nominees and a record number of appeals judges — adding that he felt he was owed "reciprocity" for his role in shepherding the nominees as Judiciary Committee chairman.

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"I look at this in a very personal way, Sen. McConnell and I have had a very close working relationship on judges. We've been very very successful. … We've made history and we've got two good people on the Supreme Court and I would like reciprocity from the leader on what I've done in our unified effort to get judges," Grassley said.

Grassley added that after President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE threw his support behind the criminal justice legislation, McConnell "ought to be helping the president get his program through."

Grassley's comments come as he and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (D-Ill.) work to lock down support for forthcoming legislation that will merge a House-passed prison reform bill with a handful of changes to sentencing and mandatory minimum sentences.

The issue has been stuck in the Senate for years, despite having support from former President Obama, because of opposition from a small, but vocal, group of Republican senators. Supporters say they've had 60 votes for previous criminal justice reform bills, but McConnell has refused to bring them to the floor — a move that would have put a spotlight on divisions within the Senate Republican caucus.

McConnell was noncommittal when asked about the issue on Wednesday, saying supporters needed to show them they had the votes for the bill, which has not been introduced yet, to pass and then, once they did that, Republican leadership would weigh the bill against other end-of-the-year issues including preventing a partial government shutdown.

“We don’t have a lot of time left," McConnell said. "The first step is to finalize what proponents are actually for. There have been a lot of different versions floating around. And then we’ll whip it and see where the vote count is and then see how it stacks up against our other priorities going into the end of the session."

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Texas lawmakers ask HHS to set up field hospital, federal resources in the state GOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee and majority whip, echoed McConnell on Thursday noting senators don't have a lot of time until the end of the year.

“I would just note the obvious, and that is the short period of time we have during the lame-duck session," he said.