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Collins says she will vote 'no' on Supreme Court nominee before election

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMasks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (R-Maine), who is facing a tough reelection bid, said on Tuesday that she will vote against a Supreme Court nominee if one is brought to the Senate floor before the November election.

"My statement was a model of clarity. ... I made it very clear, yes, that I did not think there should be a vote prior to the election," Collins told reporters when asked if she would oppose a nominee before the election. 

Collins added that her decision was based not on the nominee but on the proximity to the election and the decision by Republicans in 2016 to refuse to move forward with Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Watch live: Garland testifies before Senate panel on domestic extremism The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE, then-President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. 

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"If there is [a vote], I would oppose the nominee, not because I might not support that nominee under normal circumstances, but we're simply too close to the election, and in the interest of being fair to the American people — and consistent since it was with the Garland nomination that the decision was made not to proceed, a decision that I disagreed with, but my position did not prevail — I now think we need to play by the same set of rules," she said.

President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE is expected to name his nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgJudge Judy on expanding Supreme Court: 'It's a dumb idea' Court watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress MORE's Supreme Court seat on Saturday, teeing off a weeks-long explosive fight to confirm the pick, which is expected to lock in a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for generations. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed that he will give whomever Trump picks a vote on the Senate floor this year but has declined to say if that vote will take place before the election. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' MORE (R-S.C.) is expected to announce the schedule for a hearing quickly after Trump's announcement, which McConnell said on Tuesday will inform his decision on floor timing. Graham told Fox News on Monday night that he would schedule the Judiciary Committee hearings in a way that would allow for a vote on the Senate floor before the election. 

McConnell appears to have locked in the support within his caucus to hold a vote before the election, with swing-vote Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImmigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Top border officials defend Biden policies US Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China MORE (R-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 (R-Colo.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (R-Iowa) indicating they were on board with moving the nominee before Nov. 3. 

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Only two GOP senators — Collins and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate panel deadlocks over Biden pick to lead DOJ civil rights division Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (Alaska) — have said they do not believe the Senate should take up a nomination before the November election. A spokeswoman for Murkowski didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about if she will vote against a nominee if McConnell brings one to the floor before Nov. 3. 

Collins, in a statement on Saturday, said that whoever wins the presidential election should be able to fill the seat but did not directly address how she would vote if Republicans tried to move a nomination before the election. 

"Given the proximity of the presidential election ... I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd," Collins said in her statement. 

Updated at 3:50 p.m.