President Barack Obama called Democrats and Republicans to the White House today to discuss election-year standoff over the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Neither side showed signs of budging.
In an awkward Oval Office sit-down that lasted less than an hour, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, delivered their case for refusing to consider any nominee to the highest court during the throes of a presidential election.
Their Democratic counterparts, meanwhile, resolved to “continue beating the drum,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters after the meeting.
The gathering was the first time the leaders have met since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month set off an election-year clash over the Supreme Court vacancy.
While the men huddled at the White House, the Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was ready to pick up momentum in several state primary contests Tuesday. Democrats were quick to tie the Republican leadership’s stance to their party’s front-runner.
“All we want them to do is fulfill their Constitutional duty and do their job, and at this stage, they decided not to do that,” Reid said. “They think that they can wait and see what President Trump will do, I guess.”
Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking Democrat on the committee also attended the meeting and posed for photos with smiles frozen to their faces.
When reporters got too close to Grassley, Biden joked, “Don’t hurt Senator Grassley. We need him.”
The leaders ignored a reporter’s question about whether their minds were open to changing their position, as aides shooed reporters from the room.