Mary Clare Jalonick
WASHINGTON: Senate Democrats on Monday forced a one-week delay in a committee vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who remains on track for confirmation with solid Republican backing.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that, as expected, Democrats have requested a postponement. The committee vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch now will be held April 3.
As the committee readies to vote, four additional Democrats said they are likely to vote against the Denver-based appeals court judge. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said they will vote against Gorsuch, and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy tweeted that he still was undecided but inclined to oppose him. Leahy is a senior member of the Judiciary panel and a former chairman.
Gorsuch “has an extreme record on everything from corporate accountability and workers’ rights to women’s health, and I fear that as a Supreme Court justice he will guarantee that the highest court in the land continues to favor powerful interests over the rights of average Americans,” Franken said in a statement.
That means at least 18 Democrats and independents, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have announced their opposition to the Denver-based appeals court judge, arguing that Gorsuch has ruled too often against workers and in favor of corporations.
The Democrats who have announced their opposition have also said they will try to block the nominee, meaning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will have to hold a procedural vote requiring 60 votes to move forward. The Senate GOP has a 52-48 majority, meaning McConnell will need support from at least eight Democrats or independents.
It was unclear whether he would be able to get the 60 votes. If he doesn’t, McConnell seems ready to change Senate rules and confirm him with a simple majority.
Republicans had hoped that they’d see some support from the 10 Democrats running for re-election in states won by Trump in the presidential election, but four of those senators — Nelson, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin — have already said they will oppose the nominee.
Leahy, however, signaled that he may be willing to break from Schumer and vote with Republicans on the procedural vote, while also signaling in a separate tweet he’d vote against Gorsuch in the final, up-or-down vote.