Gorsuch nomination heads for nuclear standoff

A deeply divided Senate panel favorably recommended Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Monday, sending the nomination to the full Senate for what is expected to be a partisan showdown - and eventual confirmation.

Coons' vote will also help Democrats filibuster the Gorsuch confirmation vote on the Senate floor.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced on Monday that he will oppose President Trump's pick, including on a procedural vote where he will need the support of eight Democrats to cross a 60-vote threshold. What is not known is whether Republicans have the votes needed to kill a filibuster and invoke the nuclear option, which would lower the level of support needed to confirm Gorsuch. The nuclear or constitutional option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes.

With the failure of Republican healthcare legislation in Congress and with courts blocking the president's ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, winning confirmation for Gorsuch has taken on even more importance for Trump.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said using the nuclear option would be "bad for the Senate". In 2013, Democrats were in the majority and upset about appellate court nominees getting blocked.

"Judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed".

"In my view, this is not a routine nomination", said Sen. "If Judge Gorsuch is unacceptable to our Democratic colleagues, there will never be a nominee by this president that you will find acceptable". Brown and other Democrats say Gorsuch does not deserve to be seated on the high court. And because the final confirmation vote only requires a simple majority, Gorsuch would certainly be confirmed.

"I don't want to change the rules of the Senate, and I hope we're not confronted with that choice", she told CNN.

But Coons warned against changing Senate rules, and said he remained open to a compromise. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who has also been targeted by JCN but said Friday that she will vote against Gorsuch.

Judiciary Committee Republicans blasted Democrats for pursuing what they called the first "partisan filibuster" of a Supreme Court nominee - there was a successful bipartisan filibuster five decades ago against a Democratic president's nominee - and said it would come to naught because of the threatened rule change.

Flake has been a big supporter of Gorsuch, the federal appeals-court judge from Colorado, since Trump announced the nomination.

Coons agreed with Graham's lament about Senate traditions changing, but not so much about Gorsuch's qualifications. Committee Republican John Kennedy called Gorsuch "a legal rock star" and a "thoroughbred". And although the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to confirm him, that will happen only if the chamber's rules are changed.

The Gorsuch battle has not generated as much interest or concern among liberal organizations as among conservative groups, which have spent almost $10 million on a TV ad campaign created to pressure moderate Democrats.

Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump on January 31 and spent weeks privately meeting with senators and preparing for his confirmation hearing. Donnelly is up for reelection in 2018.

"I can not vote exclusively to protect an institution when the rights of hard-working Americans are at risk", said Leahy, the longest-serving senator at 42 years, "because I fear that the Senate I would be defending no longer exists".

  • Leroy Wright