WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden argued on Thursday that Republicans were hurting the country by refusing to hold a hearing to consider Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, and challenged law students to name one way in which Congress was functioning.
"Regardless of your political persuasion, I would love to hear one of you in class -- I'll come back if you invite me -- tell me how the system is functioning," Biden said during a speech at the Georgetown Law Center. "Even the most serious, persistent national crises haven't motivated the current Congress to find a middle ground."
The vice president argued GOP senators were abdicating their responsibilities by refusing to hold hearings for Garland, something that has "never occurred before in our history." The accusation didn't sit well with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who noted that both Biden and President Barack Obama had worked to block nominations by Republican presidents when they were in the Senate.
Republicans have repeatedly pointed to a 1992 speech Biden made as a senator in which he called for a delay in any nominations to the Supreme Court until after the presidential election. Biden on Thursday said his comments were being taken out of context and that the Senate had considered the nominees that then-President George H.W. Bush put forward.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has claimed there is a tradition of delaying Supreme Court nominations in an election year, but that really isn't the case. Over the last 100 years, there have been four justices nominated in an election year and just once has such a nominee been blocked.
Jen Bendery contributed reporting.