Senate Judiciary Committee schedules Merrick Garland confirmation hearing

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The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing in two weeks for President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Justice Department, Merrick Garland.

The hearing, scheduled for Feb. 22 and 23, sets Garland up for a March 1 vote out of committee and comes after Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reached an agreement for the schedule.

“I’m pleased that we can announce that the Committee will be moving forward on a bipartisan basis,” Durbin said in a statement. “Judge Garland will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor and integrity. He is a consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly on his merits.”

The date for Garland’s confirmation hearing had been in limbo, in part due to the weeks of negotiation between Senate leaders over an organizing resolution for governing the 50-50 chamber. Before the organizing resolution was adopted, Senate Republicans technically still held committee gavels.

Durbin had requested that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who until last week was still chair, hold Garland’s hearing on Feb. 8. But Graham declined to do so, arguing that it violated the committee’s standard of only holding a confirmation hearing 28 days after receiving paperwork. He added that there would be insufficient time to consider Garland before the Senate impeachment trial.

Grassley said in a statement Tuesday evening that “given the significance of this role, he agreed to make an exception for the 28-day time frame and will “accelerate the post-committee hearing markup.”

“Given these accommodations, I expect a thorough review of Judge Garland’s qualifications as well as swift and transparent responses going forward,” he said.

Under the committee schedule, Garland will appear before the committee on the first day of his confirmation hearing. The second day will consist of testimony from outside witnesses. Senators will then submit questions for the record to Garland on Feb. 24. Garland will have until Feb. 28 to respond.

Biden announced he planned to nominate Garland to be attorney general Jan. 7. Garland is the former chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and was President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court in March 2016. His nomination, however, was blocked by the GOP-controlled Senate.

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