A week after the President nominated Mr. Gorsuch, more Senators have reacted and are planning to meet with the potential Supreme Court justice. After a notification we received about Senator Van Hollen’s “concerns” with Mr. Gorsuch, we’re moving him from “open” to “likely no”. Meanwhile, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, facing a re-election fight next year in a state that voted for Trump by double-digits, is meeting with the nominee, and Senator Claire McCaskill is still getting heat for seeming “soft” on the nominee. Republicans targeted Joe Donnelly this weekend in ad spots over the nomination, as both parties have now taken to the airwaves to put pressure on undecided Democrats to confirm/filibuster Gorsuch. Senators McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, and Richard Blumenthal are all scheduled to have one-on-ones with the nominee Wednesday.
Senator Tester had a long meeting with Gorsuch Monday, and is encouraging other Democrats to “give him a fair shake.” He remains “open” on the idea of supporting him.
The unknown with a lot of the 2018 Trump State Democrats is the real meaning of “we want a 60-vote nominee”: do they mean they intend to filibuster if given an excuse that Gorsuch is “too extreme”, or do they really wish for an up-down vote but don’t want to be seen breaking ranks? We’ve explored the conundrum each of these red state Democrats face. Expect many to remain question marks until hearings are well under way.
Original review of the nomination below:
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.
We have placed the Senators in slightly different categories on this particular nomination than with our Cabinet estimates:
Green indicates a Senator is likely to invoke cloture on the nomination (not necessarily for the nominee, but enough for them to clear a filibuster)
Yellow indicates a Senator is genuinely open to invoking cloture. They may not support the nominee on final confirmation, but they will allow that up/down vote to happen.
Red indicates a Senator is a likely no. A Senator marked as a “no” may have not actually declared this directly, but their statements make it pretty clear (“I have concerns with a nominee who [clearly in the mold of Scalia, holds views that are the polar opposite of my own]”) they have no intention of actually voting for this nominee.
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.
Updated 2/2/2017 @ 11:31am we will update this post with links for all Democrats we list as Yeas on cloture.
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.