GOP Sen. Perdue says Senate must act on high court vacancy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia said Monday it would be a "dereliction of duty" for the Senate to fail to act on Hillary Clinton's Supreme Court nominees if she becomes president.

A few Republican senators and GOP activist groups have suggested that if Clinton becomes president, Republicans should try to keep the existing vacancy on the Supreme Court unfilled throughout her tenure.

But Perdue said that failure to act would be an abdication of responsibility.

"I hear what's being said about that, but I think that's a dereliction of duty," Perdue said, pointing to the Senate's constitutional role on judicial nominations. "We're called to advise and consent. Now we can say 'no,' but that means that you do have a hearing."

"So I'm going to be one that says 'Look, our oath of office says that we're going to govern, and that's what we should do.'"

Perdue spoke with reporters Monday after presiding over a brief "pro forma" Senate session held one day before the election.

Perdue struck an optimistic note that Republican Donald Trump would be elected and the GOP would retain its majority in the Senate. But he said that if Clinton becomes president Republicans will work with her.

"Both parties need to find a way to compromise and get the country moving again," Perdue said, "so whoever's in the White House we're going to give them a fair shake here in terms of trying to move forward and that means the budget, that means the appropriations process."

Several GOP senators in recent weeks, including Richard Burr of North Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas, have suggested that Republicans should take an unyielding stance toward any Clinton nominee, even though there's already been a vacancy on the Supreme Court for the better part of a year following the death of Antonin Scalia. The GOP-led Senate has refused to take any action on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee.

The Senate could theoretically confirm Garland during a post-election lame-duck session, but Perdue said doing so would be "improper." Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also ruled out a lame-duck confirmation.