In the party-line fight over whether to hold a confirmation vote on Obama's nominee,
McConnell dismissed the notion of a lame-duck confirmation vote.
"I can't imagine that a Republican-majority Senate, even if it were soon to be a minority, would want to confirm a judge who would move the court dramatically to the left," McConnell said on "Fox News Sunday." "That's not going to happen."
Likewise, White House Chief of Staff
"We will stand by him from now until he is confirmed and he's sitting on the Supreme Court," McDonough said, also on Fox News. That means Obama will stick by Garland through the end of his term, McDonough said.
Garland, 63, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the Oklahoma City bombing case, is chief judge of the court of appeals for the District of Columbia. He has a record as a cautious centrist who has been deferential to executive authority.
McConnell's redrawing of his tough line against the Senate taking up the nomination came as some members of his party have been suggesting that Garland should get a hearing and a vote. On Friday, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said his colleagues should just "man up and take a vote."
McConnell, noting that Kirk is running for re-election this fall, said that won't happen. "President Obama calling this judge a moderate doesn't make him a moderate," he said, saying the real issue is "the impact this will have on this court for a quarter century."
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, on Sunday predicted that Garland would ultimately prevail.
"Mitch McConnell has said a lot of things," Reid said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But his Republican senators are not going to go over that cliff with him. They're not going to do it. As I told Merrick Garland, 'This is going to break. You're going to become a Supreme Court justice.'"
Ohio Republican Gov.
Kasich later walked back that statement. "In an effort to be polite today, apparently I've created a little bit of a situation," he told reporters. "... He's not going to be my pick for the Supreme Court."
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