Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest statement that Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination will be confirmed on Friday, April 7, has set the battle lines for next week’s confirmation fight.
On Tuesday, McConnell gave reporters a guarantee that Gorsuch will be confirmed on April 7, regardless of how Democrats will vote on the nomination.
“He’ll be on the floor of the Senate next week and confirmed on Friday,” McConnell said. “We are optimistic that [Democrats] will not be successful in keeping this good man from joining the Supreme Court real soon.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer quickly condemned McConnell’s comments. “This is the man who broke 230 years of precedent and held Judge Garland up for a year and a half and now is complaining? Doesn’t really wash,” Schumer said.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary committee started its deliberations over Gorsuch, which were then postponed by a week when Democrats used a parliamentary delaying move.
Committee chair Chuck Grassley has made it clear he wants his committee’s report on Gorusch’s confirmation voted on next Monday, April 3, sending the nomination to Senate Majority Leader McConnell that day.
Schumer has said he will filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, forcing the Republicans to get 60 votes in the Senate to break a cloture motion and move the confirmation to the full floor for 30 hours of debate – most likely by April 4.
As of Wednesday morning, there was little indication that Republicans had the Senate votes to overcome the filibuster unless McConnell killed it for Senate confirmations.
There are 52 Republicans in the Senate and all are expected to vote to break the filibuster. So far, at least 26 Democrats on record as voting for the filibuster.
Five Democrats are up for re-election in 2018 in states that voted heavily for Donald Trump: Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin. McConnell, at a minimum, would need those votes and three others. So far, only Manchin has set he will vote with the Republicans.
Unlike last week’s drama over Obamacare in the House, the votes in the Gorsuch drama will be known. McConnell can’t use the “nuclear option,” a procedural move to kill the filibuster, until there is a floor vote on the cloture motion, and each Senator’s vote is on the record.
McConnell’s statement on Tuesday was a clear signal he would kill the filibuster, if needed, to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.
Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.