Democrats Have Votes for Filibuster, GOP Moves Closer to Nuclear Option
On Monday, Senate Democrats gained enough votes to block the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
The move will certainly lead Republicans to employ the “nuclear option” and allow for a confirmation with a simple majority.
Four more Democrats announced their opposition to Gorsuch on Monday morning. This includes three on the Senate Judiciary Committee which is preparing to pass the nomination out of committee. Their votes are expected to be along party lines with all nine Republicans supporting him and all seven Democrats in opposition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated on Sunday that he will proceed with the change to Senate rules and avoid a filibuster.
“Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week. How that happens will really depend on what will happen with our Democratic friends,” said McConnell. Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the Senate.
Feinstein declares opposition.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced during this morning’s hearing that she cannot support the nomination. Her spokesman also confirmed Monday that she will support a filibuster.
“Judge Gorsuch’s views were difficult to discern because he refused to answer many questions. Even basic questions that were answered by previous nominees,” Feinstein said. The announcement gave Democrats the 41 votes they needed to filibuster the nomination.
Concerns over Gorsuch and lingering anger embolden Democrats.
Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year. The nominee went through four days of hearings in the Judiciary Committee where Democrats expressed concern about his conservative leanings.
But the fight over Gorsuch is heading toward a historic battle that is likely to change the Senate rules for this nominee and those in the future. A move by Republicans to change the rules would be the latest escalation in the partisan battle over the judiciary and other presidential appointments.
Democrats are also still angry over Republican treatment of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Republicans refused to even consider the nominee. However, this anger is causing its own controversy.
Democrats changed the Senate rules in 2013 from requiring a 60-vote to a simple majority for all judicial nominations and cabinet officials after Republicans blocked Obama’s nominees. Republican actions now are viewed by many as simply giving the Democrats a taste of their own medicine.
One thing is for sure however, battles in the Senate are far from over.