Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Monday appeared open to the idea of holding confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

During a townhall event at the Sioux City Rotary Club, Grassley said that if a majority of senators pushed him to hold a hearing between Election Day and Inauguration Day, he could be persuaded to do so.

"I, myself, could not do that, based upon the letter that we sent, that the new president should make the appointment. And 52 senators, a majority of the Senate, right now of that same position," he said.

He added: "If we have the election, and there was a majority of the Senate changed their mind about doing it in the lame duck, as opposed to Jan. 20, I don't feel that I could stand in the way of that. But I don't think I can promote that idea."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the idea of holding hearings before Obama leaves office.

"The leader has been clear, the next president will make this nomination," Don Stewart, McConnell's deputy chief of staff for communications, told Politico.

The Republicans on Grassley's Judiciary Committee also signed a Feb. 23 letter reiterating that a Supreme Court nominee would not be considered until after the next president is sworn in.

Obama nominated Garland, who is chief judge for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in May, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.