Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday that she’ll vote “no” on whomever President Donald Trump nominates to the Supreme Court, if the Senate votes on the nominee before the Nov. 3 election.
“I made it very clear, yes, that I did not think there should be a vote prior to the election. And if there is one, I would oppose the nominee not because I might not support that nominee under normal circumstances, but we’re simply too close to the election,” Collins told reporters in Washington.
“And in the interest of being fair to the American people, and consistent, since it was, with the [Merrick] Garland nomination that the decision was made not to proceed, a decision that I disagreed with, but my position did not prevail. I now think we need to play by the same set of rules,” she added.
Collins, who is in a tight reelection battle, announced Saturday that she did not want the Senate to vote on Trump’s nominee for the vacancy that opened up with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death the day prior.
But she did not say how she would vote if the Senate moved forward with the process, which it appears poised to do.
Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are the only Republican senators to side with Democrats, who argue that the Senate should wait until after the election to see if Trump wins reelection or loses to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, meaning they don’t need either Collins or Murkowski to pass Trump’s nominee with a simple majority.
Democrats are upset the GOP-controlled Senate declined to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Garland, in 2016.
That vacancy was ultimately filled by Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the situations are different because voters chose to keep Republicans in control of the Senate in both 2016 and 2018.
Trump plans on announcing his nominee, a woman, on Saturday.
It’s not clear whether the vote will happen before the election.
McConnell told reporters elsewhere on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the vote would happen “this year,” leaving open the option of taking until after the election.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he believes Trump’s nominee would be “powerful and positive” and “someone who has likely already been vetted by the Senate.
Asked if the White House is confident the president’s nominee will be confirmed within before the election, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, “We certainly believe we can.”
“We will go about this the way we always have, by putting forward a Constitution-abiding textualist originalist that we believe the American people will appreciate and we believe will get through the approval process, the nomination and confirmation process I should say, quite quickly,” she said at the White House.