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McConnell: GOP would 'absolutely' fill Supreme Court seat next year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman MORE (R-Ky.) pledged Tuesday that Republicans would fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2019 or 2020, arguing the dynamic is different now than when the party held open a seat in 2016.

Asked during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt if Republicans would support filing a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 2019 or 2020, McConnell said "absolutely."

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McConnell has earned fierce pushback for blocking Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans don't believe Democrats 'have the stones to play hardball' Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice by Thomas MORE, former President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, from getting a hearing or a vote. But he's said that Republicans would fill a vacancy ahead of the 2020 presidential election. He has argued that there was a divided government in 2016, but there would not be in 2019 or 2020 because Republicans control both the Senate and White House.

"You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time, back to 1880s to find the last time a Senate of a different party from the president filled a Supreme Court vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election. That was entirely the precedent," McConnell said on Tuesday about his decision to block Garland.

"There was nothing I did that was, would not have been done had the shoe been on the other foot had there been a … Republican president and a Democratic Senate. So look, they can whine about this all day long. But under the Constitution, there is co-responsibility for appointments," McConnell added.

Republicans have put a premium on confirming President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE's judicial nominees. In addition to setting a record on the number of circuit court picks confirmed, Trump has also gotten two Supreme Court nominees through the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump's two nominees, Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchGorsuch rejects Minnesota Republican's request to delay House race Justice Barrett's baptism by fire: Protecting the integrity of elections Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice by Thomas MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Justice Barrett's baptism by fire: Protecting the integrity of elections Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice by Thomas MORE, at 52 and 54, respectively, are the court's two youngest justices.

Three of the nine current justices on the Supreme Court are 70 or older: Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgBarrett starts fraught first week as Supreme Court faces fights over election, abortion rights Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Barrett to use Supreme Court chambers previously used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE is 86, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerBarrett to use Supreme Court chambers previously used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Barrett's baptism by fire: Protecting the integrity of elections Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama MORE is 81, and Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands Justice Barrett's baptism by fire: Protecting the integrity of elections The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day MORE is 71. Ginsburg and Breyer are both members of the court's liberal wing, while Thomas is a conservative. 

The Supreme Court announced last month that Ginsburg had completed three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas.

“This audience can see that I am alive. And I am on my way to being very well,” she said at the annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.