New England Senators Meet With Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland

Republican Kelly Ayotte said she's willing to meet with President Obama's nominee, but remains opposed to hearings and a vote

Calling Judge Merrick Garland impressive and accomplished, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine emerged from her meeting with President Obama's Supreme Court nominee saying the confirmation process should go forward.

She is one of just two Republicans senators on Capitol Hill to have that stance.

"The meeting left me more convinced than ever that the process should proceed," Collins said.

About 20 Republican senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley, oppose the idea of hearings, but are willing to meet with Garland out of courtesy.

The majority of senators refuse even to meet with Garland, believing that the next president should be the one to make the nomination - a point on which Collins is well aware.

"I'm not optimistic I will be changing minds on this issue, but I think if more of my colleagues sit down with Garland, they will be impressed by him," she said.

Shortly after Collins made her comments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that Democrats' attempts to pressure Republicans on the issue had failed.

Meanwhile, Democratic senators continue to meet with Garland, including today, with New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In a statement, Shaheen said the obstruction of Garland by Senate Republicans was unprecedented in U.S. history and that Senate leaders should fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) originally said she would not meet with Garland, but Monday issued a statement saying she would meet with him out of courtesy and respect, but would not support a confirmation process until after the election.

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