Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee forced the delay of a vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Monday. The one-week delay in sending the nomination to the full Senate comes as the partisan battle lines over his final confirmation votes begin to harden, reports NBC.
At least 19 Democrats have come out in opposition to Gorsuch and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he will filibuster the nominee, which means he’ll force a 60-vote threshold once it clears the committee.
With Republicans holding 52 seats, they will need at least eight Democrats to vote with them under the current rules to send the nominee forward for a final confirmation vote that would then require a simple majority.
But Republicans do have the extreme option of employing the “nuclear” option — a change of Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was the latest Monday afternoon that she will oppose Gorsuch and supports a filibuster.
“It matters that this person get more than a bare minimum of votes in the U.S. Senate,” Hirono said. “It just shows how shortsighted and political they want to make this process.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet tipped his hand on whether he is willing to do that, and it’s not clear that he will have to make that decision as there are still 30 Democrats who haven’t said how they will vote. A change in the rules would become the norm for future Supreme Court nominations, taking away the minority party’s ability to mount a challenge to the lifetime appointments.