Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (right) and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland met on Wednesday, April 13/Courtesy Warner's office

Senate Republicans say that they will not hold hearings or otherwise consider President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.

But Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Wednesday, after a meeting with Garland, that he’s hopeful Republicans will change their mind. He is pressing for Garland to get “the hearing he deserves,” followed by an up or down vote on his confirmation.

“I have to remain an optimist in this business,” he said. “I hope that public pressure maintains that some of my colleagues will rethink their position and go ahead and hold the hearing.”

Warner didn’t specify what he thinks may finally sway Republicans from their position, that in a presidential year it should fall to the next president to make the nomination to the nation’s highest court. The resolve of those lawmakers is made even stronger given that Garland, who’s widely considered a moderate, would be replacing the late Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative.

Could the outcome of the presidential nomination process — say, if the general election race turned out to be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — be the turning point?

“To me that would be kind of whacky,” Warner said. “Although this has been clearly a kind of whacky election year.”

Warner said he hopes the nomination process can be de-politicized.

“I think it is terribly important that the process proceeds,” he said. “The Constitution is explicitly clear that the president shall nominate. He did his job on March 16 when he nominated Judge Garland, now it’s up to the Senate to advise and consent. I strongly hope that my Republican colleagues will take this out of the realm of politics and do their job.”

“The notion that we’re going to use political gamesmanship about decision-making on the Supreme Court would be a further deterioration of our political process in this country,” Warner added. “That’s not what the country wants.” contributed to this story. Photo of Wednesday meeting courtesy of Warner’s office.


Sen. Mark Warner Rep. Frank Wolf

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va. 10th) were in Reston on Friday to talk about the future.

Particularly, the future of the United States if there continues to be budget standoffs. The legislators were speakers at a Town Hall sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council at Sprint headquarters here.

Warner said while he appreciates the recent budget deal that was signed last month, it is just a stopgap measure until a real deal can be agreed upon down the road — one that will ensure a more stable fiscal future for the country.

“I find a bit of a benefit in this deal in that it was this is the last of the small deals,” said Warner. “We have cleaned out the cupboard and the cookie jar. … there was good work and we have given predictability for two years. But this is the last of those kind of deals.”

The recent budget deal set federal government spending levels for two years. It ended three years of bipartisan tension over spending, taxes and the Affordable Healthcare Act that twice brought the nation to nearly defaulting on its debt. The plan raises Federal spending limits by $63 billion for the next two years, ensuring there won’t be more sequestration during that time.

Warner said getting a longterm budget agreement will go a long way in job creation and protecting the economy in the future.

“I still believe the single biggest job creation action we can take is to get our fiscal house in order,” he said. “[We need to] put in place longer deal that would give longterm visibility and that would allow us to say the promise around our entitlement programs will be there and will be sustainable over next 25 years. The tax code that would be pro growth and would not have us lurching from crisis to crisis the we have been today.”

Wolf, who recently announced he will retire from the Hill after 32 years, said he agreed with everything Warner said — and framed his look into the future both personally and monetarily. He said the fiscal situation in America reminded him of the lyrics to the old Simon and Garfunkel song “The Boxer.”

“The song says ‘man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest’,” said Wolf. “The nation is pretty much disregarding where we are. I have five kids and 16 grandkids. I look at the future and I am not completely optimistic.

“We are facing decline, and I think we will go into decline if we do not do what Sen. Warner was talking about if we do not have a grand bargain,” he added. “We can have a renaissance in America if we deal with it.”

Wolf pointed out that if the country continues on the current path, most of the money in the future will go towards debt repayment and not transportation, education or research.

“In 2030, every penny that comes into the treasury will either go for interest on debt or entitlements,” Wolf said. “A great nation cannot survive with those numbers. Social Security fund will be exhausted in 2033. “

Wolf says he is confident that Congress will pass the budget in the next two weeks. Then it is time to start work on the next one.

“The bipartisan budget deal was a good thing,” he added. “It showed we can come together in bipartisan way, but it does not solve it in long run.”


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