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Mitch McConnell secures key swing vote of GOP Senator Lamar Alexander in the fight for the Supreme Court nomination after two Republican dissenters said they would vote against Trump's pick before the election

 Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Senator Lamar Alexander for his Supreme Court fight, after two Republicans said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should not be replaced before the election.

The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell in a statement Sunday, saying 'no one should be surprised' by a new appointment in an election year and that voters 'expect it'. 

The news is a blow to the Democrats, as the retiring Senator was viewed as a potential swing vote against McConnell and Trump's plans to rush the court appointment.

Donald Trump on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider 'without delay' his upcoming nomination to fill Ginsburg's seat, who died Friday after a battle with cancer. 

The move comes just six weeks before the election and has sparked fierce debate, with many Democrats - as well as some Republicans - insisting the seat must not be filled until after the election.   

The crux of the debate centers around the move made by Republicans back in 2016 - and led by McConnell - to block then-President Barack Obama from appointing a new justice to the court nine months before the election. 

Their argument at the time was that the position should not be filled until a new president was elected by the American people - a standard set by the Republicans that the Democrats now argue the party must continue to honor.   

Four GOP senators need to join the Democrats to stop a Supreme Court nomination going forward. 

Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Representative Lamar Alexander (pictured) for his Supreme Court fight

Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Representative Lamar Alexander (pictured) for his Supreme Court fight

'No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican president's Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,' Alexander said in a statement. 

'The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.'

Alexander, who is retiring at the end of his current term, went on to say that Democrats would also rush to fill the seat 'if the shoe were on the other foot'. 

'Senator McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot,' he said.

'I have voted to confirm Justices [John] Roberts, [Samuel] Alito, [Sonia] Sotomayor, [Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament.


'I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump's nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg.'  

The senator has a history of bipartisanship, having worked closely with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the past on making it easier for the Senate to confirm presidential nominees. 

He had also been eyed by Democrats as a swing vote during Trump's impeachment trial, one of a handful of GOP senators that hinted they could vote to hear from witnesses with knowledge of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine.

However Alexander disappointed Democrats in this instance too, deciding against the calling of witnesses and calling the trial a 'partisan impeachment.'

The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell (pictured) in a statement Sunday, saying 'no one should be surprised' by a new appointment in an election year and that voters 'expect it'

The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell (pictured) in a statement Sunday, saying 'no one should be surprised' by a new appointment in an election year and that voters 'expect it'

Two GOP senators - Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins - have already dissented on the Supreme Court vote, vowing to derail Trump's nomination plans until after the November 3 election.  

Murkowski became the second Republican senator Sunday to say the chamber should not take up the president's nominee before the American people vote for their next president, hours after Trump threw shade at her publicly and after her colleague and frequent collaborator Collins made her own opposition to a quick vote known. 

'For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,' the Alaska senator said.  

'Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,' she continued.

'I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia.

'We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.'      

Murkowski in her statement was referencing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, which never got a hearing despite Barack Obama nominating Garland nine months before the 2016 elections.  

Sen. Lisa Murkowski vowed to derail Trump's nomination plans
Sen. Susan Collins has also dissented

Two GOP senators - Lisa Murkowski (left) and Susan Collins (right) - have already dissented, vowing to derail Trump's nomination plans until after the November 3 election


Trump took a slap at Murkowski hours before she released the statement Sunday morning, as he kept up his pressure campaign on his own party and prepared to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in an upended election. 

The president kept his comments brief, penning a simple 'No thanks!' as he retweeted a promotion by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce speech by Murkowski for Tuesday.

Murkowski voted against Trump's last Supreme Court pick – Justice Brett Kavanaugh. More critically for the current scramble underway, were statements she said shortly before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. 

'I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,' she said, Alaska Public Radio reported. 

She referenced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision not to grant a hearing to Garland in 2016 nearly nine months before the election.

'That was too close to an election, and that the people needed to decide,' Murkowski said.

'That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important.'  

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – with whom Murkowski often votes when diverging from party orthodoxy – came out with her own statement Saturday.

'In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,' Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter. 

Collins is up for reelection in a close race.   

The two dissenters have left Democrats still shy of the count of four needed to derail a nomination, but points to the possibility they could prevent it by winning over an additional pair of Republicans. 

With Alexander no longer a possible dissenter, the focus has shifted to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who votes with conservatives but also voted for an impeachment article against Trump and has called him out occasionally in public. 

Democrats have put several other options forward to stall or counteract Trump rushing through the appointment for Ginsburg's replacement.

Several including Rep. Joe Kennedy III have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.  

President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman. On Sunday he tweeted about Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski

President Donald Trump tweeted a dig at GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said before Ginsburg's death that she would not vote for a replacement close to the election

President Donald Trump tweeted a dig at GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said before Ginsburg's death that she would not vote for a replacement close to the election


Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: 'If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It's that simple.' 

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter: 'If Sen. McConnell and @SenateGOP were to force through a nominee during the lame-duck session -- before a new Senate and President can take office - then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court.'  

Court packing is a controversial move, however Democrats argue it will be necessary to rebalance the court if Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Ginsburg's replacement. 

Other options on the table are the pursuit of impeachment charges, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not rule out in an interview Saturday. 

'We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,' she told ABC's 'This Week' when asked about the prospect.

'This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,' Pelosi continued. 

'Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.' 

AOC echoed the possibility of pursuing impeachment charges at a joint press conference with Schumer Sunday saying there has been 'an enormous amount of lawbreaking' under Trump's watch and branding Barr 'unfit for office'. 

'I believe that certainly there has been an enormous amount of lawbreaking in the Trump administration,' she said, when asked about impeachment.

'I believe Attorney General Bill Barr is unfit for office and that he has pursued potentially law-breaking behaviors.'

She said America must 'use every tool at our disposal' and turn to 'unprecedented ways' to stall the appointment and that means putting all options 'on the table'.

'I believe that also we must consider again all the tools available to our disposal and all these options should be entertained and on the table,' she said.   

Two other senior Republicans, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, backed McConnell in public statements Sunday. 

Conservative Trump loyalist Sen. Tom Cotton told 'Fox News Sunday' the president should act 'without delay.'

'The Senate will exercise our constitutional duty,' he said. 'We will move forward without delay.' 

Trump's public pressure comes hours after he said at a campaign rally he will act swiftly to make a nomination. 

'I will be putting forth a nominee this week,' he said at a campaign rally in North Carolina 

'It will be a woman,' Trump added. 

The nomination would fail if Republicans were to lose four members from their 53-vote majority. 

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday pushed the Senate to vote on a nomination before the election, but would say his party has the votes.

'I don't know the answer to that. I believe we will' he said.  

Before he left the White House for the rally, Trump had named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.

Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.

He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an 'extraordinary person'.  

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