WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley had breakfast Tuesday with the man whose elevation to the Supreme Court he has vowed to block and told him the Senate won’t advance his nomination “during this hyper-partisan election year, the lawmaker’s office said.
Grassley’s meeting with federal judge Merrick Garland was “cordial and pleasant” and lasted about 70 minutes, according to a statement released by the Iowa Republican’s aides.
Grassley evaded reporters who waited for him outside the Senate Dining Room in the Capitol. He had said in advance that he would recite to Garland the Republican position that the Senate won’t consider a nominee until the new president elected this November makes a selection.
“As he indicated last week, Grassley explained why the Senate won’t be moving forward during this hyper-partisan election year,” Grassley’s statement said. “Grassley thanked Judge Garland for his service.”
For refusing to allow his committee to even hold the usual hearings on Garland, Grassley has become a favorite target of Democrats, who criticize him almost daily on the Senate floor.
He’s also been under pressure from Democrats back in Iowa, where he is up for re-election this year.
Told of Grassley’s meeting with Garland as he entered the Capitol Tuesday near the dining room, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “I’m glad he’s doing something.”
Garland as usual said nothing to reporters.
President Barack Obama nominated Garland last month to fill the vacancy created by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Minus Scalia, the high court is balanced 4-4 between justices who usually lean liberal or conservative. With voters about to choose a new president and control of Congress at stake in November, Republicans don’t want to infuriate conservative voters and approve a justice who could tip the court in the liberal direction.