Senate Democrats are closing in on the 41 votes needed to enact a filibuster and block Neil Gorsuch from being appointed to the Supreme Court, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he'll move to kill the filibuster if that happens.
All Republicans need is a simple majority in order to change the rules so that Supreme Court filibusters can be stamped out with only 51 votes, instead of the presently required 60 votes, according to Politico.
Although Gorsuch has the pledged support of at least three Senate Democrats, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York blamed the federal judge for not winning over more Democrats to his side.
"Look, what happened was that when Gorsuch refused to answer the most rudimentary questions in the hearings, after there were many doubts about him to begin with, he wouldn't even then answer whether he supported Brown v. Board," Schumer told NBC. "Even Judge Roberts, who was very reticent, did that. There was a seismic change in my caucus. And it's highly, highly unlikely that [Gorsuch will] get 60 [votes]."
Republicans would need eight Democrats to prevent a filibuster, which is unlikely given the current political climate and the pressure Democrats are under to undermine President Donald Trump in every way. But McConnell is confident that Republicans will be able to bypass the filibuster if it comes down to that.
"What I’m telling you is that Judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed," McConnell told Fox News, according to Politico. "The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority."
Democrats argue that there should be a more consensus pick to the Supreme Court because Republicans refused to hold a vote on federal judge Merrick Garland after he was nominated by former President Barack Obama after the February 2016 death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.
"[M]ost of the nominees get 60 votes," Schumer told NBC. "The last four nominees, two by President Bush, Alito and Roberts, two by President Obama, Sotomayor and Kagan, each got votes from the other side. That's the norm. But when you have the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation have a veto power over who you choose, you're not going to get bipartisanship."
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee lamented the lack of bipartisanship in the Senate.
"We find ourselves where both sides of the aisle have basically taken this place into the ditch," Corker said, according to Politico. "Every time one side gets the advantage, they say if the other side were in our position, this is what they’d do. So we continue to spiral down."