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President to meet with Republican leaders on court fight


    White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday.

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama is due to meet face-to-face Tuesday with the Senate Republican leaders vowing to block his Supreme Court nominee — no matter who it is — with the hope of keeping the seat open for a Republican president to fill next year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are due at the White House midmorning for the sit-down with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking Democrat on the committee. It will be the first time the leaders have met since Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last month set off a clash over the Supreme Court.

At another time, the gathering might have been a nod to the tradition of at least limited cooperation in naming and confirming justices to the nation’s highest court. The president might have floated potential candidates; Senate opposition might have come armed with their own preferred names.

But in the current fight, gestures of collaboration seem moot. Neither side has indicated it will come with much more than talking points.

“Look, the president is open to a discussion, but it would represent a pretty dramatic reversal in position for Mr. McConnell, who has said that the president shouldn’t put anybody forward, to come with a list of potential nominees,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “It makes it hard for him to engage constructively, until they change that position.”

In a joint statement last week, McConnell and Grassley said they looked forward to “reiterating” their belief that the electorate should weigh in on a decision that could shift the ideological balance of the court for a generation.

They also suggested that the White House might want to fill out the meeting agenda with other items.

“We welcome the opportunity to further discuss matters of mutual interest, like the drug epidemic that’s tearing communities apart across our country,” they said.

Before McConnell heads to the White House, he is scheduled to address House Republicans at their weekly meeting. The House GOP has been adamant — no hearings, no votes on a nominee

While the standoff continues, the president spent a significant part of the weekend reading through files on potential nominees and considering his options, Earnest said, adding that the president has not settled on a short list and could still add names to the mix.

Amid the unusually contentious circumstances, the president tapped a close adviser to lead the selection process within the White House. Senior Adviser Brian Deese, who previously led climate change negotiations, will work closely with White House counsel Neil Eggleston throughout the process, the White House said.

For now, the White House is focused on demonstrating that it is making an effort to consult with the Senate — even if there’s not much give and take. On Tuesday, Obama plans to discuss with Republican leaders the historical precedent for confirming justices in a presidential election year, Earnest said.

“One of the things the president is interested in discussing is, actually, what happened in 1988,” Earnest said, noting Anthony Kennedy’s election-year confirmation to the court. Kennedy had been nominated by President Ronald Reagan the preceding year. Both McConnell and Grassley voted in favor of Kennedy’s confirmation.

Republicans, meanwhile, are quick to note the history they find relevant: As senators, both Obama and Biden filibustered President George W. Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito.

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  • Love those republicans. Go ahead and just say NO. That is what people now expect you to say. Why anyone would vote for such a bankrupt party is beyond me. Hopefully someday republicans will go back to actually believing in republican principles. Don’t see it happening anytime soon. Time to bring back the Whigs. lol

    • And what of democrat principles? Based on the last 7 years, here they are:

      Inflaming an ever increasing racial divide.

      Impoverishing the largest progressive run state, California, with the highest percentage of those living under the poverty line.

      Ignoring our soon to be insolvent entitlement programs (Social Security Disability next year).

      Presiding over the slowest economic recovery, the lowest labor participation rate in 4 decades.

      Squandering US influence in the world at the expense of vital national interests, particularly the Middle East.

      Negotiating a nuclear agreement that will set of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and actually shelter the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

      An immigration policy that amounts to the dissolution of our borders in order to import democrat party voters.

      Use of the IRS like a sort of political gestapo to shut up conservative groups.

      Supporting the sale of baby body parts.

      These appear to be the guiding principles of the Democrat party, either by design or by ignorance, aimed at a slow destruction of the country.

  • Eh Senator Mitch McConnell ?? Don’t back down ! & Stay the course!!Remember this is what the president does best, TALK!His gift of gab is uncanny, so watch out!
    I admire your resolve to hold off until the next president is elected into office.Whether it’s a Democrat or Republican. Let the people decide!!This not unreasonable!
    What puzzles me ? is why Hillary doesn’t side with republicans, she COULD be?could be the next President to nominate the next SCOTUS.Or COULD it be? They know the Democrats will get get another shellacking come November, when the Donald is elected President…IMUA

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