Judge Kavanaugh is the second nominee selected by President Trump since his 2016 election to go before Grassley-led committee.
Iowa's senior U.S. senator has been tasked for the second time in two years with overseeing the congressional hearings that will determine whether President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee will take the bench.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 84-year-old Charles Grassley will lead the 20-person panel of lawmakers responsible for conducting hearings for Trump's nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, prior to the Senate's deciding vote.
Trump announced his nominee in a prime-time press conference Monday night at the White House. Kavanaugh, 53, is the second judge the president has nominated since taking office in 2016. The first, Justice Neil Gorsuch, took the place of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He was sworn in April 10, 2017.
Republicans are hoping to seat Kavanaugh, a well-known conservative judge from Washington, D.C., before the court reconvenes in October.
"Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees to come before the Senate," said Grassley, a Republican, in a statement Monday. "His credentials are well known, and he's served with distinction as a judge on the esteemed D.C. circuit for more than a decade. He is a superb mainstream candidate worthy of the Senate's consideration."
By Tuesday morning, Kavanaugh was on Capitol Hill to start meeting the senators whose support he will need to clear Republicans' narrow 51-49 majority.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, described Kavanaugh as "highly qualified" and "well respected."
"He deserves a respectful and timely confirmation," Ernst said in a statement Monday, "and I stand ready to offer advice and consent to Judge Kavanaugh as he moves through the confirmation process."
Ernst praised her fellow Iowan in the Senate for his handling of the Gorsuch nomination last year, "allowing plenty of time for both parties to participate and we did have a successful confirmation."
Unlike when Gorsuch took the place of fellow conservative justice Scalia, Kavanaugh, if approved, will replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's sole swing vote. With his appointment, conservatives would have a 5-4 advantage over the court's left-leaning justices.
Trump's ability to nominate two justices within his first term in office is due in part to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his decision in 2016 to hold no hearings for then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — a decision Grassley supported as chairman of the judiciary committee.
Despite Democrats' argument now that McConnell should follow his own precedent and not seat a new justice during an election year, McConnell and his party are moving forward.
"As we have always done when reviewing nominees for lifetime-appointed judgeships, the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a fair and comprehensive evaluation of the nominee's background and qualifications followed by hearings where we'll hear directly from the nominee as we fulfill our advice and consent responsibility," Grassley said.
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday ahead of Trump's announcement, Grassley batted down Democrats' argument that a justice should not be appointed this year before the composition of Congress could change in the November midterm elections.
"It's important to let the American people decide who should choose a nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy," he said. "That's why I waited until after the 2016 election to hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee. But the individual who selects nominees is not on the ballot in the midterm elections. The rule simply doesn't apply this year."