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Durbin to Graham: 'Regrettable' no hearing so far for Garland

Senate Democrats are pushing for a Feb. 8 confirmation hearing for Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandOvernight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests Duckworth asks DOJ to probe 'brazenly violent' police treatment of National Guard officer Biden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives MORE, President Biden's pick to be attorney general.

Garland has yet to receive a hearing weeks after his nomination, in part because of a quirk that has left Republicans retaining control of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

While Democrats have the Senate majority, Republicans still control the committees because the Senate hasn't yet passed a power-sharing deal. Without an organizing resolution, the Senate committees are still following the organization for the 116th Congress. That leaves Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.) as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

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Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers demand justice for Adam Toledo: 'His hands were up. He was unarmed' Schumer warns Democrats can't let GOP block expansive agenda Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ MORE (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Graham on Monday asking him to schedule the hearing, arguing that there was "simply no justification" to oppose giving Garland a hearing before the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8. 

"I find it regrettable that we have been unable to reach agreement on a timeline for processing this nomination. While I remain committed to working with you and Senator Grassley, the Committee’s incoming Ranking Member, to find bipartisan consensus on timing, there is simply no justification for delaying Judge Garland’s hearing any further," Durbin wrote in the letter.

Durbin implied in his letter that Graham is currently refusing to give Garland a hearing on Feb. 8, writing, "It is my hope ... that you will reconsider your objections to proceeding with a February 8 hearing."

Spokespeople for Graham didn't immediately respond to a question about Durbin's request.

If Graham doesn't agree to a Feb. 8 hearing, Durbin warned that he was "prepared to take other steps to expedite the Senate’s consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination should his hearing not go forward on February 8."

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A spokesperson for Durbin didn't immediately provide details on what steps Durbin would be willing to take. But Durbin defended Garland in his letter.

"He is a mainstream, consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly both on his merits and because of the pressing need to respond to the January 6 insurrection and other national security risks," Durbin wrote.

Democrats can confirm Garland without GOP support once his nomination is on the Senate floor. Under a rules change enacted by Senate Democrats in 2013, lower-level judicial picks and executive nominees need only a simple majority to defeat a filibuster and ultimately be confirmed.

It's not the first time Republicans have refused to give a hearing to Garland.

Former President Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court in 2016, but Republicans refused to give his nomination a hearing or a vote because of the looming presidential election. In 2020, Republicans set a new record for how close to a presidential election a Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed when they put Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettDemocrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi says she won't bring bill to expand Supreme Court to the floor Biden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives MORE, former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE's pick to succeed Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgDemocrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi rips McConnell in new book: He's an 'enabler of some of the worst stuff' Democrats to offer bill to expand Supreme Court MORE, on the bench.

Graham praised Garland earlier this year when Biden picked him to be his attorney general nominee, calling him a "sound choice."

“If media reports are accurate, I believe Judge Garland would be a sound choice to be the next Attorney General. He is a man of great character, integrity, and tremendous competency in the law,” Graham tweeted at the time.