Senate Republicans will vote to confirm Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the 3 November election, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has said.
“We’re going to have a process that you’ll be proud of. The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee, and we’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election. And that’s what’s coming,” the South Carolina Republican said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who controls official action on the Senate floor, has not provided a timeline for confirming Mr Trump’s Supreme Court pick, although he did note in his opening floor speech on Monday that the Senate could run through its official process in time for a pre-election final vote.
"President Trump's nominee for the vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate," he said, adding that there is “more than sufficient time to process the nomination” before the 3 November elections.
Mr Trump plans to pick a woman to fill the vacancy created by Justice Ginsburg’s death. The leading candidates are reportedly federal Appeals Court Judges Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit.
The Senate could also vote on Mr Trump's nominee in the lame-duck session after the election, but Mr Graham’s comments suggest the GOP does not want to wait until then.
The Judiciary chairman has done a complete 180-degree turn on confirming Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years.
At a Senate Judiciary hearing in 2016, he said: “I want you to use my words against me. If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
He continued: “We are setting a precedent here.”
Mr Graham is facing Democrat Jaime Harrison for re-election this fall, a closely fought race that several elections handicappers have rated Leans Republican.
Mr Harrison, who has out-fundraised Mr Graham so far this year but still trails him in total campaign cash on hand, blasted the incumbent on Twitter on Monday for his about-face about Supreme Court confirmation processes.
“My grandpa always said that a man is only as good as his word. Senator Graham, you have proven your word is worthless,” Mr Harrison wrote.