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Tipsheet

'Keep Your Powder Dry': McConnell's Offers Slight Warning Letter to Senate GOP Before SCOTUS Vacancy Fight

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Of course, the squish squad was going to announce its intentions at the outset of this fight. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away. There’s a vacancy. President Trump wants that vacancy filled. He’s reportedly narrowed the list of candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a vote will happen. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the Senate Judiciary Committee will have hearings. It’s happening folks. Yet, McConnell has to run a tight ship. Like the Kavanaugh fight, which was one of the nastiest Supreme Court nominations in recent memory, the Senate GOP has to hold the line. It’ll be tight, but right not it would seem that McConnell has the votes to get this through—on paper. We’ll see what happens when the fighting starts. For now, the Kentucky senator is telling his fellow Republicans to “keep their powder dry.” He also added a warning about his colleagues trapping themselves into positions before the fight has even begun (via The Hill):

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning GOP senators undecided about filling an election-year Supreme Court vacancy to keep their "powder dry" amid an incoming onslaught of pressure to announce a decision.

McConnell in a letter to the Senate Republican caucus, obtained by The Washington Post, warned senators against locking themselves into a position and countered potential arguments for why they should not fill the seat made vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday. 

"Over the coming days, we are all going to come under tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination. For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry," McConnell wrote in the letter.  

"This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret," he added. 

Asked about the letter, a spokesman for McConnell declined to comment beyond a public statement the GOP leader released on Friday night in which he vowed that whomever President Trump nominates to fill the seat will get a vote. 

This is going to become a 2020 election issue for sure. It’ll get both bases animated. For Joe Biden, that’s a huge plus, given that he’s facing a chronic enthusiasm issue among Democratic voters. For GOP senators running in tight races and those who face re-election next midterm cycle, choosing the wrong path on this could be what determines if they need to update their resumes. Even liberal reporters know the game here. As of now, let’s say Sens. Murkowski, Collins, and Romney tap out, McConnell still has the votes to make this work, but as we noted before—there’s ZERO room for error. Then again, could we see defections from Democrats? Will those two wild cards from across the aisle come from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin? Also, the claim that four GOP senators aren’t backing a SCOTUS vote was fact-checked. Let’s just say the Left shouldn’t bet the mortgage on this rumor mill.

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