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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Sen. Tom Cotton Reveals He’s Holding Up Merrick Garland’s Confirmation Vote

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday said he’s delaying Merrick Garland’s confirmation for attorney general over his answers to written questions, the second delay Garland has faced in a nomination nonetheless expected to pass easily.

Key Facts

Cotton tweeted he was blocking Garland because he “has refused to answer basic questions,” particularly about illegal immigration.

Cotton pointed to questions about whether Garland would support the hypothetical deportations of illegal immigrants who are gang members or who commit assault, to which Garland noted that such decisions are made by immigration courts and added, “I have not studied those laws.”

Cotton also noted similarly evasive answers to questions about capital punishment, gun control and President Joe Biden’s “equity” executive order.

Cotton’s attempt to block Garland’s nomination – which will likely delay it by about a week – comes after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as the outgoing chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held up his hearings over former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in earlier remarks on the Senate floor had said, “I sincerely hope that whoever is holding his nomination up on the other side can be persuaded to give him his chance.”

Key Background

This is not the first time Garland has had a nomination obstructed by Senate Republicans. He was denied even a hearing in 2016 after then-President Barack Obama nominated him to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Big Number

4. That’s how many Senate Republicans joined with Democrats to vote Garland out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Graham.

What To Watch For

Garland is poised to be confirmed by a broad bipartisan majority, with Graham, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) all signaling support.

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