The U.S. Senate Needs to Do Its Job, Just as North Dakotans do Every Day

I’ve heard from an electrician from Bismarck who works 50–70 hours a week to keep North Dakotans’ homes and businesses functioning. If he doesn’t go to work, he won’t get paid and can’t put food on the table for his family.

I’ve heard from a veteran from Williston who served two tours in Iraq, helping to destroy weapons stockpiles and explosive devices. That’s a 24 hours a day, seven days a week job. If he didn’t show up for work, he or other soldiers could have died.

I’ve heard from husband and wife farmers from Barnes County who never stop working to make sure they are able to grow and harvest their crops, and provide for their family. If they don’t do their jobs, that support goes away.

These North Dakotans can’t imagine how any member of Congress could just decide not to go to work, yet that’s what is happening with a majority of the U.S. Senate.

When North Dakotans go to work each day, they are expected to do their jobs to the best of their abilities so they can make a living and feed their families. The U.S. Senate also needs to do its job. That means meeting with the President’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, holding a public hearing on him, and holding an up or down vote in the Senate. At that time, any senator is free to vote against the nominee.

Since public confirmation hearings began, the Senate has never denied a U.S. Supreme Court nominee a hearing and a vote. We cannot allow this moment to be the first time.

Throughout my time in public service and the U.S. Senate, I have worked to reach real results for North Dakota and stop the political gridlock that too often prevents progress. Sadly, some senators who claim to want the Senate to work are now blocking that progress by refusing to fully consider the Supreme Court nominee.

It’s politics at its worst. And they are shirking their responsibility by failing to do their jobs.

Vetting a Supreme Court nominee is a responsibility I take very seriously, and it’s one of the most important roles of a U.S. senator. It’s for that reason that I recently met with D.C. Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland, the nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, for about an hour in my office.

Meeting with Judge Merrick Garland in my Washington, D.C. office on April 7, 2016.

This meeting was an opportunity for me to get to know Judge Garland and understand what kind of person he is. It was clear from our meeting that he’s intelligent, focused on adherence to precedence, committed to the integrity of the court and the rule of law, and experienced from his almost 20 years as a federal judge on the most significant court besides the Supreme Court and from his service at the U.S. Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor, including his work on the Oklahoma City bombing case.

But it was particularly important to me was to get to know him on a personal level and gain an understanding of his character. Judge Garland told me about how he has tutored two girls since they were in the third grade who live in the inner city in Washington, D.C. They started out barely able to read. Now they’re in fifth grade and he has them reading above their grade level. Judge Garland said it’s the most important work he does.

Our meeting reinforced why Judge Garland’s nomination should receive full and fair consideration so senators can ask him questions, and all of us — including the American people — can learn more about him from a public hearing.

As I joked with Judge Garland, it’s tough being a moderate who looks for commonsense solutions in Washington, D.C. But North Dakotans want officials who seek out rational policies and reach results. North Dakotans understand the importance of compromise over partisan politics. And North Dakotans know that every worker needs to do their job to the fullest. The U.S. Senate needs to do the same.