Durbin: McConnell 'totally inconsistent' on Supreme Court hearings

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (D-Ill.) on Sunday ripped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.) for his handling of Supreme Court nominees, saying the Republican has used the court "to play to his political advantage."

Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, laid into McConnell on NBC's "Meet the Press" for refusing to meet with former President Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016 because it was an election year. 

Durbin called McConnell's stance hypocritical, given the Kentucky Republican's pledge to vote on President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE's nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy ahead of this year's elections.

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"Sen. McConnell invented this new rule and wouldn’t even consider a meeting with Merrick Garland. And now he’s saying that we’ve got to hurry through here and get this done before the election," Durbin said.

"Totally inconsistent. He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time," he continued. "The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage."

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Sunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed MORE (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Sunday accused Republicans of playing by "different rules" under Trump than they did under Obama. 

"I don’t think we should be having this conversation, because we seem to be playing different rules with different presidents," Coons said on CBS's "Face the Nation." His remarks came in response to a question about whether he would support one of Trump's Supreme Court picks.

He added, however, that he is willing to meet with Trump's eventual nominee and review his or her record.

Durbin sought to lay out the stakes for the coming confirmation battle in the Senate, noting that the next Supreme Court justice could serve as a swing vote on the fate of the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade.

"Beyond the procedure, beyond the gamesmanship, it is a life-and-death important decision to be made by this court on so many issues," Durbin said.

Democrats are outnumbered 51-49 in the Senate, leaving them largely powerless to stop a nominee on their own. A handful of Democrats may face pressure to confirm Trump's pick because they face reelection in states Trump won in 2016.

Durbin on Sunday would not say that every Democrat would oppose the nominee, given it has not yet been announced, but disputed that senators will vote with reelection bids in mind.

Trump is scheduled to announce his pick to replace Kennedy on Monday night. He conducted interviews last week with at least seven candidates.