The announcement means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has enough votes to move forward with Trump’s pick.
Sen. Mitt Romney said he would support a floor vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court, essentially clinching consideration of Trump’s nominee this year despite the impending election.
Just two Republican senators have asked for the party to put the brakes on the confirmation. And with a 53-seat majority, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) now has the votes he needs to move forward with a nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” the Utah Republican said in a statement.
Romney said he was merely following the law in making his decision rather than taking a position based on the recent blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, during the 2016 election. Romney said the “historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
He added that his decision is “not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.”
Though Romney’s position doesn’t mean Trump’s yet-to-be-named nominee will definitely have the votes to be confirmed, it does mean that McConnell and Trump can move forward without delay.
Other potential swing votes like Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Chuck Grassley of Iowa said on Monday evening they do not oppose considering a nomination. Only Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have said the seat shouldn’t be filled this close to the election.