Barrasso: If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot, Dems Would Try to Confirm New Justice

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Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, places a bottle of hand sanitizer on the dais during a hearing titled "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency" in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) (Photo by AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chair of the Republican conference in the Senate, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that if the shoe were on the other foot, and the Democrats had the majority in the Senate and the White House, they would be trying to confirm a new Supreme Court justice.

“Well, first, let’s be very clear. If the shoe were on the other foot and the Democrats had the White House and the Senate, they would right now be trying to confirm another member of the Supreme Court,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “What we’re proposing is completely consistent, completely consistent with the precedent. 

“What happened in 2016, and let’s go back. We were following the Joe Biden rule. Joe Biden was clear when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and he said, ‘When there is a Senate of one party and a White House of the other,’ and he said this to George Herbert Walker Bush, he said, ‘if there’s a vacancy in that final year, we will not confirm,’ and that’s what we did with Merrick Garland, but 29 times, Chuck, there have been vacancies in the year of a presidential election, and if both the White House and the Senate are of the same party, they go forward with the confirmation,” Barrasso said.

CHUCK TODD: I have scoured all of these 2016 notes looking for these footnotes that have been added now. You guys have this new explanation. Never once — on the Senate floor, “When an election is just months away in 2016,” you said that, “people should be allowed to consider possible Supreme Court nominees as one factor in deciding who they’ll support for president. This shouldn’t even really be controversial.”

Then you said, “This is not about the person. It’s about the principle involved, and I want to give the American people a voice in this.” Republicans have said there should not be a bitter political fight. “We have called on the president to spare the country this fight. The best way to avoid the fight is to agree to let the people decide.” Senator, these are your words. Not once did you say, “Oh, it depends on what party the Senate holds versus the party of the president.” This just sounds like a power grab, pure and simple.

BARRASSO: Well, it is the Biden rule, and this is the way, this is the precedent of the country. 

TODD: There is no Biden rule.

BARRASSO: You haven’t had Merrick Garland — you haven’t had since 1888 when a party of the Senate and the White House were of different parties that anyone was confirmed, and that was the situation with Merrick Garland. Chuck Schumer said the same thing at the end of George W. Bush’s term, that if the vacancy occurred with President Bush, a Republican in the White House, and the Democrats under Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer in charge of the Senate that they would not confirm. 

But now when you have both parties in the White House and the Senate, historically the confirmation goes forward. And that’s what’s going to happen here. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen here. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. The Senate is going to be back in session, and the president’s going to make a nomination I believe this week.

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