Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) reaffirmed the Senate Judiciary Committee's commitment Wednesday to the "Biden rule" regarding President Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, saying there would be no hearing for Obama's selection.
The American people deserve a voice for this "momentous decision," McConnell said.
"The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration," McConnell said. "The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this. Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy."
McConnell cited what he called the "Biden rule," repeating current Vice President Joe Biden's words as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992:
"It is my view that if a Supreme Court justice resigns tomorrow or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not, and not, name a nominee until after the November election is completed," Biden said. "The Senate, too, Mr. President, must consider how it would respond to a Supreme Court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year."
Biden said the Senate Judiciary Committee should "seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings" on the nominee if Bush went through with naming one.
"Instead, it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over," Biden said. "That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me we will be in deep trouble as an institution."
Obama officially announced Garland as his pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, imploring Senate Republicans to give Garland a hearing during remarks in the Rose Garden Wednesday.
"President Obama and his allies may now try to pretend this disagreement is about a person, but as I just noted, his own vice president made it clear it's not," McConnell said. "The Biden rule reminds us that the decision the Senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle and not a person."
McConnell said Obama's pick was made to politicize the nomination process within the context of the 2016 election.
"Here's our view," McConnell said. "Instead of spending more time debating an issue where we can't agree, let's keep working to address the issues where we can. We just passed critical bipartisan legislation to help address the heroin and prescription opioid crisis in our country. Let's build on that success. Let's keep working together to get our economy moving again and make our country safer rather than endlessly debating an issue where we don't agree."