The President nominated 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. The move has been unanimously hailed by Republicans in and out of the Senate (including the GOP Senator most vulnerable in 2018, Dean Heller of Nevada) and he will receive the backing of the full Republican conference, 52 votes in all. Unlike with Cabinet and lower court nominees, sixty votes are required to invoke cloture, which means one of two things: eight Democrats agree to invoke cloture or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to go nuclear and kill the filibuster.
Until that latter option is pursued, we are tracking and parsing the statements of all 100 Senators, with an eye on the Democrats to see who breaks away. We already have Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia down as a vote for cloture: he has stressed he will not obstruct a Supreme Court nomination (even if he doesn’t vote for them on final confirmation). This is different from the other half-dozen Democrats some have seized on as “unwilling to filibuster”, because the rest have pushed a desire to see a “sixty vote nominee”. On the very opposite end, it was clear to us that many of the more liberal members of the Senate, like Kamala Harris and Ron Wyden, were never going to accept any nominee from this President. Many Democrats are still angry that Republicans held the seat open for nearly a year, never granting Garland a hearing.
As of right now, Gorsuch has 53 of the 60 votes he needs for cloture. We are paying close attention to the behavior, questions, and press releases from the Senators in gold. Democratic activists and voters will likely put pressure on them to oppose, pressures that, for some of them, may be countered by their upcoming elections or even their own personal convictions of the process (“everyone should get a chance for an up/down vote”). If it looks like the Democrats will hold the line and filibuster, our focus then shifts to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues. Will they vote in unison to kill the filibuster to get Gorsuch through?
Updated 2/2/2017 @ 11:31am we will update this post with links for all Democrats we list as Yeas.
Yea- Joe Manchin “Let’s give the man a chance. Talk to him. My goodness.” He wants a 60 vote threshold but has already voted with President Trump on a number of nominees, helped push Energy nominee Perry through, and has previously declared he opposes repeating Republican block tactics.