In a blow for Senate Democrats, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on Tuesday that he is open to confirming a Supreme Court nominee from President Trump this year.
“The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees. Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said in a statement.
Romney’s decision paves the way for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up whomever Trump nominates to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat just weeks before a presidential election. a vote to the Senate floor before the election.
McConnell has essentially locked down support within his 53-member caucus to move a Supreme Court nominee this year, laying the groundwork for an explosive fight that critics warn could lead to an overhaul of the Senate. McConnell has not said if he will try to move a nomination before or after the election.
So far only two GOP senators have said they do not support moving a nomination before the Nov. 3 election: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).
Romney declined to say how he would handle a Supreme Court nominee during a lame-duck session if Democrats win back the majority in November or if Democratic nominee Joe Biden won the White House.