Lisa Murkowski clarified (or perhaps changed) her position on the pending Supreme Court nomination yesterday by saying that she can’t take a position on the nomination until she knows who the nominee is:
If Democrats were counting on Lisa Murkowski to vote against President Trump’s next nominee to the Supreme Court, they should think again.
Sen. Murkowski said Tuesday she could not rule out that she would vote to confirm a Trump nominee if the Judiciary Committee approves one before the November election.
“I know everybody wants to ask the question, ‘will you confirm the nominee?’” she said outside the Capitol, as her Republican colleagues were gathering for their weekly policy lunch. “We don’t have a nominee yet. You and I don’t know who that is. And so I can’t confirm whether or not I can confirm a nominee when I don’t know who the nominee is.”
“I do not support this process moving forward,” she said. “Now, having said that, this process is moving forward with or without me.”
It may be that Murkowski is bowing to political pressure or simply to the inevitable, with a vote on Trump’s nominee seemingly assured. In fact, there isn’t any inconsistency between saying a) that she didn’t think the nomination should proceed before the election, and she would vote against proceeding if able to do so, and b) at the same time, if the nomination does go forward prior to the election, she will vote for or against the nominee based on that individual’s merits. But Murkowski had seemed to go beyond that last week, when she said, “And so I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.”
PAUL ADDS: It’s possible that Sen. Murkowski wants to use whatever leverage she has to discourage President Trump from nominating someone who is almost certain to vote in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. However, as things stand now, with Mitt Romney on board the confirmation express, Murkowski would seem to have little or no leverage.
One possibility is that Murkowski will abstain from voting, rather than voting “no.” Abstaining would enable her to express her unhappiness with the process without voting against a well qualified nominee.
If all else goes according to plan, this would limit the “no” tally to 48 (assuming Sen. Collins votes no). The “yes” vote should easily reach 49.