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Grassley, Ernst pledge to 'evaluate' Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Iowa Republican Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Military survivors of child sex abuse deserve more NASA selects the next Artemis moonwalkers while SpaceX flies a Starship MORE and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes Report faults 'broken' system for insulin price spikes MORE, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday they will evaluate President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol MORE’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy after the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd among options for 'Remember the Titans' school's new name Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general MORE last week. 

“Once the president puts forward his nominee for the Supreme Court, I will carry out my duty — as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — to evaluate the nominee for our nation’s highest court,” Ernst said in a statement. 

Grassley, a former Judiciary Committee chairman, echoed the notion of giving Trump’s nominee a fair shake, adding that he thinks the decision to move forward on the confirmation process should be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Murkowski blasts Trump's election claims, calls House impeachment appropriate MORE (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Additional airlines ban guns on flights to DC ahead of inauguration Graham congratulates former rival Harrison on being picked to lead DNC MORE (R-S.C.), who have both said the Senate should vote on Trump’s nominee. 

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"Over the years, and as recently as July, I’ve consistently said that taking up and evaluating a nominee in 2020 would be a decision for the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate Majority Leader," Grassley said in a statement provided to the Des Moines Register. "Both have confirmed their intentions to move forward, so that’s what will happen. Once the hearings are underway, it’s my responsibility to evaluate the nominee on the merits, just as I always have."

Trump said Monday he plans to announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday

The Iowa Republicans’ statements come as the Senate is divided over whether to vote on Trump’s nominee before the November election.

Two Republican senators, Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time McConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Murkowski blasts Trump's election claims, calls House impeachment appropriate MORE (Alaska), have said the upper chamber should not vote on a nominee until after the presidential election. 

Democrats have criticized McConnell for vowing to push through Trump’s nominee less than two months ahead of the election, despite his decision to block then-President Obama’s nominee Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandBiden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable Graham says he'll back Biden's CIA pick A Democratic agenda for impossibly hard times MORE in 2016 after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died nine months before that year’s presidential election. 

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Grassley, as Judiciary chairman, was one of the leading Republican voices in opposition to holding a vote on Obama’s nominee in 2016. 

“A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice,” Grassley said in a statement after Obama nominated Garland. “Do we want a court that interprets the law, or do we want a court that acts as an unelected super legislature? This year is a tremendous opportunity for our country to have a sincere and honest debate about the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system of government.”

In 2018, he also signaled he was against the Senate voting to fill a vacancy ahead of the 2020 election, telling Fox News, “If I’m chairman, they won’t take it up.” 

"Because I pledged that in 2016," Grassley said. "That's a decision I made a long time ago."

Democrats need at least four GOP senators to side with them to delay confirmation.

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Ernst is one of the most vulnerable Republican senators facing reelection in November. Other vulnerable GOP senators have also joined in the party’s support in voting on Trump’s nominee, including Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 Top GOP senators acknowledge Biden as president-elect after Electoral College vote MORE (N.C.), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed MORE (Ariz.), Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerNikki Haley unveils PAC ahead of possible 2024 White House bid McConnell has said he thinks Trump committed impeachable offenses: report Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win MORE (Ga.) and Graham, who is facing an increasingly tight race against Democrat Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.

Some key Republicans have yet to say how they think the Senate should address a vote on Trump’s nominee this close to the election, including Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Additional airlines ban guns on flights to DC ahead of inauguration Ben Shapiro stirs controversy by guest writing Politico newsletter MORE (Utah), who was the only GOP senator to vote in favor of convicting Trump on the first article of impeachment earlier this year.

Updated at 7:17 p.m.