White House, Oklahoma senators at odds over Garland meetings
Though both of Oklahoma's U.S. senators have stated publicly that they're willing to meet with Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the U.S Supreme Court, neither has committed to a firm time, according to the White House.
Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, don't want the Senate to hold hearings for Garland, a federal appeals court judge, or move forward in any way with the confirmation process. Both have said that the next president should be able to pick the replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
However, unlike many Republican senators, Inhofe and Lankford have said they would meet with Garland, a traditional courtesy shown to nominees. Garland led the federal investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, winning the respect of state and local officials and the families of victims with his sensitive handling of the case.
In a statement to The Oklahoman, a White House official said Monday night, "We have offered to make Judge Garland available for meetings with both Senator Inhofe and Senator Lankford on multiple dates in this work period, but have yet to hear back from those offices with a confirmed date and time.
" We are hopeful that these meetings will be arranged soon so that the senators can hear from the Judge directly -- an opportunity that we continue to believe the American people should have, as well, through a confirmation hearing."
Donelle Harder, spokeswoman for Inhofe, said Tuesday that the first White House contact regarding a Garland visit was late Monday afternoon.
"We got our first request from the White House late in the afternoon yesterday and are working on a time to arrange the meeting," she said.
D.J. Jordan, spokesman for Lankford, said, "Although Senator Lankford still plans to meet with Judge Garland, no meeting has been confirmed yet. The meeting definitely will not happen this week, but our hope is for later this month."