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Washington – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote to confirm Merrick Garland as the next attorney general, five years after refusing to follow through on Garland’s Supreme Court appointment.

A spokesperson for McConnell confirmed to CBS News that the Kentucky Republican supports President Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Justice. Politico first announced its decision on Tuesday.

Garland was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama in 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell declined to consider Garland’s nomination, arguing that the Senate should not occupy a Supreme Court seat during an election year, and instead let the American people decide. After the GOP won the White House, the Republican-controlled Senate filled the vacant seat with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017, the first of three justices appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump.

McConnell described his decision to block Garland’s appointment as “the most important thing I’ve ever done.” The Senate then confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett in court days before the 2020 election.

Garland appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirmation hearings this week. The committee will hold a vote to move Garland’s nomination forward on March 1.

The longtime federal judge promised senators during his confirmation hearings that he would work to maintain the independence of the Department of Justice, and “repel any effort by anyone to pursue partisan or political prosecutions or investigations of any kind. way either “.

“I am not the president’s lawyer,” he said. “I am the lawyer for the United States.”

Some Republicans have already said they will back Garland’s nomination, including Senators Thom Tillis and John Cornyn.

“I think you will be a straight shot when it comes to questions of law. And I respect that. We need it,” Cornyn, the former Republican whip and close ally of McConnell, told reporters Monday.

Garland is currently a judge on the powerful DC Court of Appeals.

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