Blunt says vote on Trump court nominee different than 2016 because White House, Senate in ‘political agreement’

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on Sunday defended his decision to push for a vote on President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than two months ahead of Election Day, despite his conflicting position four years ago. 

Blunt was among GOP senators who blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia about 10 months ahead of the 2016 election.

But the senator told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the situation is now different than it was four years ago because the same party, Republicans, control both the Senate and the White House. 

“Two things have to happen for a person to go on the Supreme Court. In the tradition of the country, when the Senate and president were in political agreement no matter what was the election situation, judges went on the court and other courts. When they weren’t in agreement, they didn’t,” Blunt said. 

“And we were in a situation in 2016 where the White House was controlled by one party, the Senate by another, and the referee in that case was going to be the American people,” he continued. “In this case, both the White House and the Senate have some obligation to do what they think in the majority in the Senate is the right thing to do, and there is a Senate majority put there by voters for reasons like this.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced on Friday that he would push for a vote on Trump’s nominee. 

Democrats have widely criticized McConnell’s decision, calling it hypocritical based on his decision to block Obama’s nominee in 2016 and noting that Ginsburg’s death occurred even closer to the election. 

A couple of Senate Republicans have joined Democrats in saying the Senate should not vote before the election. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the most vulnerable GOP senators facing reelection in the fall, has said the upper chamber should note vote to confirm Ginsburg’s successor before the election, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said, ahead of reports of Ginsburg’s death, that she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before the election. 

Republicans cannot afford more than three defections to confirm Trump’s nominee if all 47 members of the Senate Democratic caucus oppose Trump’s pick.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Lisa Murkowski Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Roy Blunt Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sunday talk shows Susan Collins

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