Now that Democrats have failed at yet another attempt to convict former President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, the U.S. Senate is currently focused on President Joe Biden’s nominees for various Cabinet positions.
While the current 50-50 balance of power in the Senate means that Biden can’t afford to lose even a single Democrat in a confirmation vote, it looks as though the new president caught a break with an upcoming vote on Merrick Garland, his nominee for U.S. Attorney General, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled that he’s in favor of giving him the job.
When asked by Politico if McConnell is planning on backing Garland, the Kentucky senator’s response was clear and simple: “I do,” he said.
McConnell and Garland have somewhat of a past, as Garland was former President Barack Obama’s nominee to be appointed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice on the heels of the sudden death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
At the time, McConnell objected to the idea of holding a hearing for Garland’s confirmation, citing similar reasons that Democrats used with Trump on his last nomination, arguing that it was too close to an election year and that the American people should have the choice, depending on the outcome of that election.
The tactic worked, as Scalia’s open seat was filled the following year when Trump official took office, appointing Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court, which was the first of three conservative justices that Trump would have the unprecedented pleasure of appointing.
But McConnell has had his eye on Garland for some time, as the Minority Leader once recommended Garland to head up the FBI while Trump was in the White House. So, McConnell’s seeming endorsement of Garland’s shot at heading up the U.S. Department of Justice isn’t all surprising.
With at least one confirmed Republican vote — and possibly more now that McConnell has provided “air cover” to his GOP colleagues — it looks as though Garland’s chances at securing the coveted gig are all but assured.