Hawley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is scheduled to meet one-on-one with Rao on Wednesday — one day before the committee plans a vote on her nomination. Republicans hold two more seats than Democrats on the committee, and the GOP also controls a 53-to-47 majority in the full chamber.
Yet Hawley’s objections to Rao, first reported by Axios on Sunday, have infuriated much of the Republican establishment that has enjoyed significant victories during the Trump presidency in getting more conservatives confirmed to the courts.
In a meeting on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) upbraided Hawley, a freshman senator, over the Rao nomination, according to two people familiar with it who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private matter.
During the meeting, a displeased McConnell told the senator from Missouri that there were two sides in the Rao nomination battle — Republicans and allied groups, and Democrats. McConnell then pressed Hawley: Which side do you want to be on?