Republican Senator Mitt Romney says he supports voting to fill the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the US Supreme Court, all but ensuring President Donald Trump has the backing needed to push the nomination over Democratic objections that it's too close to the November election.
Romney issued a statement saying he would support moving forward.
"If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications," Romney said.
Trump , meanwhile, said he would announce his choice to replace the late Ginsburg on Saturday, setting off a Senate battle with Democrats.
The Senate Judiciary chairman who will shepherd the nomination through the chamber said Republicans have the votes they need for confirmation - even though no nominee has been announced.
"The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee," Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News late on Monday.
"We've got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that's what's coming."
The president met with conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Monday and told reporters he would interview other candidates and might meet with judge Barbara Lagoa when he travels to Florida later this week.
Conversations in the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office have been increasingly focused on Barrett and Lagoa, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private deliberations.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber and can confirm a justice by a simple majority.
Australian Associated Press