UPDATE — 3/27, 3:05 p.m. EDT: Senate Judiciary Democrats were granted a request Monday to delay a committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch until next week.
So far, 19 Senate Democrats have signaled opposition to President Trump’s High Court pick. While Minority Leader Schumer has essentially promised to filibuster Gorsuch’s confirmation vote, some, including Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), expect Majority Leader McConnell to change Senate rules and only require 51 votes to confirm the nominee.
“In talking to friends on both sides of the aisle we’ve got a lot of senators concerned about where we’re headed,” Coons said Monday on MSNBC. “There’s Republicans still very mad at us over the 2013 change to the filibuster rule, we’re mad at them about shutting down the government, they’re mad at us about Gorsuch, and we are not headed in a good direction.”
One day prior to the conclusion of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to determine Judge Neil Gorsuch’s fitness for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, Senate Democrats announced Wednesday they will oppose his nomination through a filibuster.
Often referred to as “talking a bill to death,” a filibuster is a motion to extend debate to prevent a vote on a bill or nomination. A common form of obstruction in a legislative assembly, under Senate rules, a three-fifths majority vote, or 60 senators, would be required to prevent a filibuster.
Cloture is the procedure to bring debate over a bill or nomination to an end and moving to a floor vote.
Scarcely two days into Gorsuch’s hearings, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a clear signal his party was prepared to filibuster President Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court.
“I believe we need 60 votes. Any one member can ask for 60 votes. It’s going to happen,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
On Thursday, following the end of testimony, Schumer again addressed reporters and said:
“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and George Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”
Democrats in Congress’ upper chamber joining Schumer in opposition are Sens. Markey and Warren (Mass.), Wyden and Merkley (Ore.), Casey (Pa.), Booker (N.J.), Gillibrand (N.Y.), Brown (Ohio), Baldwin (Wis.) and Carper (Del.).
Vermont independent Bernie Sanders has also announced his opposition to Gorsuch and a willingness to support the filibuster effort.
Responding on Tuesday to potential Democratic obstruction, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed skepticism there could be any White House nominee which the Democrats would support and said he expects protracted Democratic intransigence.
“I haven’t seen a single Democrat, unless there’s one you’ve observed, indicate they were prepared to either vote for cloture or to vote for him,” he said.
“Leading you to ask the following question: If Judge Gorsuch can’t achieve 60 votes in the Senate, could any judge appointed by a Republican president be approved with 60 or more votes in the Senate?”
Requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster and the GOP holding only 52 seats in the Senate, McConnell hinted at the so-called “nuclear option,” by which a simple majority of 51 could override Senate rules and move to a straight up-down confirmation vote for Gorsuch.
Although most Republican senators expressed reservations at such an act, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee and who also serves as president pro tempore of the Senate, said he is prepared to explore any avenue to secure Gorsuch’s confirmation.
[RT America] [Roll Call] [NBC News] [Photo courtesy Reuters/James Lawler Duggan via PBS]