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McConnell digs in on vow to fill Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (R-Ky.) is digging in ahead of an explosive fight over the Supreme Court seat left vacant after the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE.

McConnell, during his first remarks from the Senate floor since Ginsburg's death on Friday, argued there was "more than enough time" to confirm President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE's forthcoming nominee before the end of the year and rebuffed charges of hypocrisy from Democrats after Republicans refused to move former President Obama's nominee in 2016.

"The historical precedent is overwhelming, and it runs in one direction. If our Democratic colleagues want to claim they are outraged, they can only be outraged at the plain facts of American history," McConnell said.

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McConnell, reiterating his remarks from Friday night, vowed that "the Senate will vote on this nomination this year."

The GOP leader declined to respond to questions from reporters off the Senate floor about whether he will push for a vote before the Nov. 3 election, which is only 43 days away.

But during his floor remarks, McConnell highlighted that some previous Supreme Court justices had moved from nomination to confirmation in less time than that.

"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, another iconic jurist, was confirmed 33 days after her nomination. For the late Justice Ginsburg herself, it was just 42 days. Justice [John Paul] Stevens's entire confirmation process could have been played out twice, twice between now and Nov. 3, with time to spare. And Justice Ginsburg herself could have been confirmed twice between now and the end of the year with time to spare," McConnell said.

The Kentucky Republican, who is up for reelection this year, has not tipped his hand on whether he will try to hold a vote before Election Day, something Trump is applying public pressure for the Senate GOP caucus to do.

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Republicans can lose only three GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.

Two Republican senators — Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message MORE (Alaska) — have said they do not believe the upper chamber should move the nomination before the election.

GOP Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe American Rescue Plan was a step toward universal basic income Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Florida's restrictive voting bill signed into law MORE (Utah), Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley asks Blinken to provide potential conflicts involving John Kerry Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform MORE (Iowa) haven't addressed how they think the Senate should act.

The question over timing is expected to be discussed during a closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday.

Democrats, who need four GOP senators to side with them to delay a nomination, have fumed over McConnell's pledge to move forward and accused Republicans of hypocrisy. McConnell and the Senate GOP caucus refused to give Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ proposes crackdown on 'ghost guns' following Biden pledge America's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Biden set to flex clemency powers MORE, Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, a hearing or a vote in 2016.

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GOP senators are brushing off those charges, arguing that the key distinction between 2016 and 2020 is that now the White House and the Senate are controlled by the same party.

"Others want to claim the situation is exactly analogous to Justice [Antonin] Scalia's passing in 2016 and so we should not proceed until January. This is also completely false," McConnell said on Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs MORE (D-N.Y.) fired back that the GOP rhetoric "doesn't pass the smell test in any way."

"I just heard the remarks of the Republican leader. It's obvious why he is so, so defensive," Schumer added. "What is fair is fair. A senator's word must count for something."