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Chuck Grassley: I Won't Crack

Chuck Grassley
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) gave a floor speech about the pressure the White House and Democrats have tried to put him under to force a vote on Supreme Court nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland. (Reuters photo)

In 41 years in Congress, both as a Representative and as a six-term Senator, there's been one constant with regard to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): when his mind is made up, he doesn't budge.

Not even a fraction of an inch.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has taken to the floor of the Senate on an almost daily basis to discuss the current impasse between Republicans and President Obama over his appointment of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Equal parts policy statements and pep rallies, those speeches usually take shots at Democrats, and sometimes the court itself. But his most recent speech put the bullseye squarely on the president.

"It's no secret that the White House strategy is to put pressure on me and other Republicans in the hopes that we can be worn down and ultimately agree to hold hearings on the nominee," he said. "This 'pressure campaign,' which is targeted at me and a handful of my colleagues, is based on the supposition that I will 'crack' and move forward on consideration of President Obama's pick.

"This strategy has failed to recognize that I'm no stranger to political pressure and strong-arm tactics. Not necessarily from Democrat presidents, probably more from Republican presidents. When I make a decision based on sound principle, I'm not about to flip-flop because the left has organized a 'pressure campaign.'"

Grassley told his colleagues the American people have a "unique opportunity" in 2016 to have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court. He said they should be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on this matter.

"Our side believes very strongly that the people deserve to be heard and they should be allowed to decide, through their vote for the next President, the type of person who should be on the Supreme Court," he said. "As I've stated previously, this is a reasonable approach, it is a fair approach and it is the historical approach—one echoed by then-chairman Biden and Senator Schumer and other senators."

As to the "pressure campaign," Grassley listed the numerous times he's faced pressure from the GOP leadership, including pressure from President Ronald Reagan over his first budget. As a freshman senator at the time, Grassley refused to vote in favor of the budget because it wasn't balanced, which dealt a blow to the brand-new president.

He didn't fold then, he said, and he won't fold now.

"[Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)] also recently proclaimed that rather than follow Leader McConnell, 'Republicans are sprinting in the opposite direction.' He also wishfully claimed that the Republican façade was cracking on the issue," he said. "[Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)] fancifully stated, 'Because of the pressure, Republicans are beginning to change.'

"You can almost hear the ruby slippers on the other side clicking while they wish this narrative were true. The fact is, the pressure they've applied thus far has had no impact on this Senator's principled position.

"Our side knows and believes that what we're doing is right, and when that's the case, it's not hard to withstand the outrage and pressure they've manufactured. This pressure pales in comparison to what I've endured and withstood from both Democrats and Republicans in the past."

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