Breaking: Romney says let's get this SCOTUS vote in now; Update: 51

Alternate mainstream media headline, inspired by our colleague Guy BensonMitt Romney suddenly reverts to previous status as a dog-torturing venture capitalist. Or, alternate alternate headline, via PoliticoCocaine Mitch wins again.

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 breaks 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.

There’s not much more to add to this, since it adds up to 51 — at least for now. The writing on this wall probably came yesterday after retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander declared his intent to vote for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Alexander, who usually votes with the majority but likes to work across the aisle, was one of the big votes McConnell needed in harness, pour encourager les autres in a way.

In fact, it’s tough to be surprised by this decision. Romney may represent a less-than-enthusiastic electorate when it comes to Trump, but Utah is still deeply conservative and deeply concerned about the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. Had Romney waffled in the face of Democratic threats and caved, voters there would have been outraged — not on Trump’s behalf, but on their own behalf. And rightly so, too.

One has to wonder what Susan Collins and especially Lisa Murkowski might do now in the breach. Collins faces a tough election in Maine, so she’ll probably hang tight to her no vote, at least on the motion to proceed to a floor vote. Murkowski, however, faces a similar political climate as Romney. Alaskan Republicans already tried to oust her once, and her attempts to scuttle a normal process for filling a Supreme Court opening might end up being more damaging than supporting the normal process would have been. It may be that both will try to eat their cake and have it too by voting against the motion to proceed but voting to confirm the specific nominee in the end.

Anyway, Romney’s not hiding his thoughts behind a spokesman. Here’s his statement on Twitter:

Update: In case anyone missed it yesterday, Cory Gardner also threw his support to Mitch McConnell. That’s 51 and the ballgame, unless something changes.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023