WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republicans are considering their next step now that the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch are over and Democrats are planning to filibuster the nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met Monday to consider Gorsuch’s nomination, but as expected, Democrats requested that the nomination be held for one week, so the committee is expected to vote Monday, April 3.
Republicans, who number 52 in the Senate, need eight Democrats to join them in order to end the expected filibuster, or in more technical terms, invoke cloture.
If they don’t reach 60 votes, they can still get around it by changing the rules and requiring only a simple majority, or 51 votes, to end the debate.
So far, only two Democrats — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — have signaled they are not planning to filibuster, which means they would vote with Republicans to advance his nomination. But it’s unclear how both senators would vote on final confirmation of Gorsuch.
Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont tweeted Monday that he is not supporting Gorsuch’s confirmation, but at the same time he’s “never inclined” to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. “I need to see how Judge Gorsuch answers my written Qs, under oath, before deciding,” he said on whether he’ll filibuster.
As of Monday evening, 19 Democrats have said or suggested they will filibuster. Another three Democrats have said they’ll oppose Gorsuch in the final confirmation vote, but it’s unclear where they stand on the filibuster.
Republicans are targeting a dozen Democrats who represent mostly red states or states that Trump won last year, urging them to call for an up-or-down vote in the Senate, which is code for not supporting a filibuster. Two of those senators — Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin — have said they will support the filibuster.
The rule change is also known as the nuclear option, a controversial move that Democrats took more than three years ago for all presidential nominees other than Supreme Court justices.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested he is willing to use the nuclear option — even flatly declaring Gorsuch will be confirmed by the time the Senate departs for the mid-April recess — although he hasn’t said definitively that he will use it.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer argued Friday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that if Gorsuch can’t get to 60 votes on his own, then Republicans shouldn’t change the rules, but “change the nominee.”
Democrats are still fuming over Republican action last year to block President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, keeping the seat vacant until a new president was sworn in.
Here’s what Democrats have said about Gorsuch.
Democrats who won’t take part in filibuster (Republicans needs eight of these to end the filibuster):
1. Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) — Manchin has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to see his Democratic colleagues filibuster, nor does he want to see Republicans use the nuclear option. Manchin, though he said Tuesday morning on MSNBC that he hasn’t decided on cloture, had strongly suggested that he does not favor a filibuster.
“That’s not what the Founding Fathers decided for this body. This body’s a very unique body, a very deliberate body, supposed to be the teapot cooling the tea off.” — Interview with Yahoo News on 3/23/2017
2. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) — While Heitkamp has previously said that she believes Supreme Court nominees should have an up or down vote — meaning no filibuster — the senator said Monday that she hasn’t decided what she’ll do on the filibuster.
Here is what she said in a statement earlier Monday..
“As I said last year when Judge Garland was nominated — and reiterated again when Judge Gorsuch was nominated — the US Senate should have an up or down vote on any Supreme Court nominee as part of fulfilling our constitutional duty of providing advice and consent on nominees to the Supreme Court. I’m in the process of reviewing the materials (Gorsuch) submitted and testimony from his hearing before the Judiciary Committee while I continue to consider his nomination.” — Statement on 3/27/2017
Democrats who plan to filibuster:
1. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (New York) — “My vote will be ‘no’. … To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes, we ought to change the rules, I say: If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and President Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee.” — Statement on Senate floor on 3/23/2017
2. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) — “After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s record, I have concluded that I will not vote to confirm him to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and I will not support Republican efforts to change the rules to choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate.” — Statement on 3/23/2017
3. Sen. Bob Casey (Pennsylvania) — “I don’t believe that Judge Gorsuch, his judicial approach, would ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania and indeed across the country, and I will not support his nomination. … If you seek to become a justice of the Supreme Court … you ought to be able to rack up 60 votes … I think that’s the standard you should be able to meet.” — Press call with reporters on 3/23/2017
4. Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon) — “I will vote no on his nomination and I will vote to sustain a filibuster.” — Statement on 3/23/2017
5. Sen. Patty Murray (Washington) — “After careful consideration, I will be voting against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and I will oppose a cloture motion ending debate.” — Statement 3/24/2017
6. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) — “I believe Judge Gorsuch’s nomination should be blocked.” — Op-ed in the Boston Globe on 3/20/2017
7. Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon) — “This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court.” — Statement on 1/31/2017
8. Sen. Tom Carper (Delaware) — “I’m not prepared to consider the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. … [M]y hope is that at some point later on this year we can consider both of them … but to move forward on Judge Gorsuch, I would just kind of ignore what happened for the last year with Merrick Garland, I think would be wrong.” Interview with Delaware Public Radio on 3/24/2017
9. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) — “President Trump and his nominee need to earn 60 votes in the Senate,” said Baldwin. “I will not be one of them.” — Journal Sentinel article on 2/2/2017
10. Sen. Bill Nelson (Florida) — “I will vote no on the motion to invoke cloture and, if that succeeds, I will vote no on his confirmation.” — Statement on 3/27/2017
11. Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey) — “This is going to be a real test. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I’m going to oppose Judge Gorsuch every step of the way. A 60-vote threshold is not something new for Supreme Court nominees to overcome. It helps ensure that presidents seek nominees whose views are in the mainstream.” Interview with NJ.com on 2/5/2017
12. Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) — “I have concluded that I will not be supporting Neil Gorsuch for this opening and so I very much support a 60-vote threshold.” — Interview with Wolf Blitzer on 3/27/2017
13. Sen. Tom Udall (New Mexico) — “Every recent Supreme Court nominee has received at least 60 votes either for cloture or confirmation. Judge Gorsuch will be subject to the same test, and therefore, I will vote no on his confirmation, including cloture.” — Statement on 3/24/2017
14. Sen. Jack Reed (Rhode Island) — “I will vote no on cloture and no on his nomination.” — Statement on 3/24/2017
15. Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut) — Murphy hasn’t said how he’ll vote in the final confirmation but has expressed some support for sustaining the filibuster. “Yes I am not for changing the rules of the Senate on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. Whether we like it or not, the rules of the Senate requires 60 votes for closure and that shouldn’t change for Gorsuch. It’s been the case for every other vote that hasn’t been exempt for that requirement.” — To reporters on 3/27/2017
16. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) — “Judge Gorsuch needed to convince me he would not join the posse that has relentlessly stretched the law to benefit Republican partisans and corporations at the expense of everyone else. He did not. He will not get my vote.” — Statement on 3/24/2017
He also told reporters on 3/27/2017 that he will vote “no” on cloture, meaning he will be part of the filibuster.
17. Sen. Tim Kaine (Virginia) — Kaine has not decided how he’ll vote in the final confirmation but has expressed some support for sustaining the filibuster. “The way I look at it is the Supreme Court is the only position that requires you to get to a 60-vote threshold, which means it mandates that there be some bipartisanship and that is appropriate. Life tenure. Highest court in the land. Should have to get to 60 votes.” — To reporters on 3/27/2016
18. Sen. Kamala Harris (California) — “Exactly yes,” Harris said when asked by David Axelrod for “Axe Files” whether she’s urging Democrats to force supporters to produce 60 votes.
Harris has also said she won’t vote to confirm Gorsuch. “I cannot support his nomination.” — Op-ed in San Francisco Chronicle on 3/24/2017
19. Sen. Al Franken (Minnesota) — “Earlier today, I sat down with WCCO’s Esme Murphy and announced that I will be voting no on Judge Neil Gorsuch because I fear he’d be a part of a U.S. Supreme Court that would put the interests of large corporations before Minnesotans and all Americans.” — Statement on Facebook on 3/26/2017
Democrats who plan to vote no on confirmation but it’s unclear whether they will filibuster:
1. Sen. Ed Markey (Massachusetts) — “I will not support the nomination of Judge Gorsuch.” — Statement on 1/31/2017
2. Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) — “I cannot support any #SCOTUSnominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people. Read my full statement” — Twitter on 1/31/2017
3. Sen. Pat Leahy (Vermont) — “As of now I do not believe I can support Judge Gorsuch. He did not answer basic Qs & was selected by extreme interest groups w an agenda…I am never inclined to filibuster a SCOTUS nom. But I need to see how Judge Gorsuch answers my written Qs, under oath, before deciding.” — Twitter on 3/27/2017