After the White House notified his hometown paper he was MIA, Senator Chuck Grassley has agreed to meet with the president next week about the Supreme Court vacancy.
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The White House will hold a meeting next Tuesday to discuss President Obama's plan to fulfill his Constitutional duty and nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last week.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell will reluctantly attend, as will Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, (photo above) where nominees are vetted before they are voted on by the full Senate.
Immediately after the death of Justice Scalia, Senator Grassley told reporters he thought filling the vacancy should wait until a new president takes office. Senator Grassley announced he would not even convene a hearing to consider any nominee the president sent to The Hill. After the press characterized Senator Grassley's pronouncement as being intransigent, the senator softened his rhetoric, if not his intention, saying he would take things "one step at a time."
The announcement that Senator Grassley's next step would be attending the White House SCOTUS meeting next week follows a day of hard core political combat yesterday. On the floor of the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid warned Senator Grassley that if he refused to hold a hearing on a replacement for Justice Scalia, Grassley would go down in history as the “most obstructionist” chairman ever. And when Chairman Grassley failed to respond to the White House invitation, the administration whispered in the ear of the Des Moines Register. That unsubtle prompting was enough to make Senator Grassley rethink his position - or perhaps he just remembered his manners.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told the press corps that the meeting had finally been agreed upon "after a number of conversations, some more awkward than others."
"Ultimately, the president is going to fulfill his duty and it will be up to the Senate to decide if they're going to fulfill theirs," Earnest said.
Earnest also revealed the White House has had contact with every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the appointment, as well as former Judiciary Chairman, Utah Senator Orinn Hatch.
Though the president was able to twist their arms hard enough to persuade Senators McConnell and Grassley to attend the White House meeting, both Republicans seem to be doing so under duress. Following the White House announcement of the meeting, the two senators issued this joint statement saying they were only going so they could tell President Obama "no" to his face:
"We look forward to reiterating to him directly that the American people will be heard and the next Supreme Court justice will be determined once the elections are complete and the next president has been sworn into office."
The president and Senator Grassley will be joined on Tuesday by Senators Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat, on Judiciary Committee.
Senator Grassley's photo is from his Facebook album