Cotton’s influence on Garland’s nomination means Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must overcome a procedural hurdle before a final confirmatory vote. Democrats had hoped Republicans would agree to skip this move, especially given that some of them – including minority leader Mitch McConnell – plan to back the candidate.
However, with Cotton blocking an agreement and the Senate focusing on passing Biden’s coronavirus relief package, a final confirmatory vote on Garland is not expected to take place until next week at the earliest.
During the Garland endorsement hearing, Cotton expressed pressure to the candidate on his views on the death penalty. Garland responded that over the past two decades he had developed “concerns” about the process and its impact on color communities.
In his tweets on Wednesday evening, Cotton also criticized Garland’s responses to immigration policy. When Cotton asked if he believed that “illegal entry to our borders should remain a crime,” Garland replied that “the president has made it clear that we are a border country and that we have national security concerns.” but said that he did not know “From a proposal to decriminalize entry, but still make it illegal.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee elected Garland from the committee on Monday. While receiving support from senior committee member Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, seven Republicans on the committee, including Cotton, voted against him. McConnell blocked the Garland Supreme Court nomination in 2016 but plans to assist him as attorney general.
Garland is currently a judge on the DC Circuit’s powerful appeals court, making his ability to answer certain legal questions difficult. At his confirmation hearing, he particularly emphasized his background in law enforcement. Prior to becoming a federal judge, Garland was a prosecutor and led the DOJ’s investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.