Feb 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell says he would fill Supreme Court vacancy if it opened this year

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News Thursday that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy if it opened up this year, despite it being an election year.

Why it matters: Antonin Scalia died on this day in 2016. McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings or a vote that year on President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, arguing that that the Senate and presidency belonged to different parties and that the vacancy shouldn't be filled until the next president is inaugurated.

  • McConnell later called the move "most consequential thing" thing he has ever done and among his proudest moments.
  • The vacancy ultimately fell into the hands of President Trump, who appointed Neil Gorsuch.

What they're saying: McConnell argued that it would be appropriate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy this year because both the president and the Senate belong to the same party.

  • "If you're asking me a hypothetical about whether this Republican Senate would confirm a member of the Supreme Court due to a vacancy created this year — yeah, we would fill it."

Go deeper

Schumer on Supreme Court remarks: "I should not have used the words I used"

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed regret on Thursday for comments he made about Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, following a rare public rebuke by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The backdrop: As the Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday for its first major abortion case since Kavanaugh was confirmed, Schumer warned the two conservative justices that "you won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions." Roberts responded that "threatening statements" from top public officials are "not only inappropriate," but also "dangerous."

Senate cancels recess to work on coronavirus legislation

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the Senate will cancel its planned recess and remain in session next week as Congress attempts to pass legislation to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: McConnell previously called House Democrats' coronavirus proposal an "ideological wishlist," per The Hill. That package aimed to provide guaranteed paid sick leave for all workers, free coronavirus testing and a $1 billion infusion for unemployment insurance.

Go deeper: Congressional doctor predicts 70 million–150 million U.S. coronavirus cases

McConnell-tied PAC funds ads to disrupt N.C. Democratic Senate primary

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The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is funding ads aimed at disrupting North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, AP reports.

Why it matters: The seat currently held by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is a primary target for Democrats in 2020 as they aim to flip the Senate. The McConnell-backed ads are aimed to support state Sen. Erica Smith at the expense of former state Sen Cal Cunningham, who has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.