UPDATE: 1:04 p.m. EST — President Barack Obama and Republican leaders met for only about 40 minutes Tuesday to discuss who will get to nominate the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, with the GOP apparently standing its ground that they wouldn’t hear a nomination from Obama, USA Today reported.
Emerging from the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said to reporters that "They were adamant. They said no, we're not going to do this at all. We'll wait and see, I guess, what President Trump will do," USA Today reported. Reid said the leaders did not discuss anyone specifically to take the Supreme Court seat, but that if Republicans had any in mind, Obama would consider them.
The Republicans who met with Obama, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, did not comment to reporters after the meeting. Republicans have argued that the next president should be the one to nominate a justice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month.
President Barack Obama plans to meet Tuesday with two of his primary Republican roadblocks in possibly getting a U.S. Supreme Court nominee to pass through the Senate, but it's unclear how effective he can be on that front by the time he leaves office, Reuters reported.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Judiciary Committee leader Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were scheduled to appear at the White House just before noon to discuss Obama’s “constitutional responsibility” to pass through a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last month. Obama has said he wants to get a nominee passed through by the end of his term, while Republicans have said they wouldn’t even hold meetings with a nominee, an unprecendented proclamation.
"We'll have to see if Republicans are also committed to that kind of serious conversation," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. "Maybe they won't be, and if they aren't, then maybe it will be a shorter-than-expected meeting."
Others invited to attend Tuesday’s meeting include Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, the New York Times reported. The fight between GOP and Democratic leaders has been steady since Scalia’s death, with Reid saying Monday on the Senate floor that Grassley was abandoning his constitutional responsibilities in advocating for the next president to appoint the ninth justice.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 29, 2016
Last week, Obama tapped senior adviser Brian Deese to lead the behind-the-scenes work of getting a Supreme Court nominee through, Politico reported. Deese has been known to spearhead complicated projects for the Obama administration, including those on environmental regulation and the auto industry bailout.
Some thought to be on Obama’s short list for the nomination have already said they do not want the job. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was a possibility, but he said he'd prefer being a senator. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, also thought to be a contender, has since told the White House he wants to stay where he is.