The top U.S. Senate Democrat on Thursday pledged to pursue a procedural hurdle to try to block the confirmation of Republican President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a move that could provoke a nasty partisan fight and change the way the Senate does business.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the 100-member Senate, leaving Democrats with an uphill battle to prevent Gorsuch's confirmation. But Senate rules enable Democrats to insist on 60 votes to overcome a procedural move called a filibuster to allow a final up-or-down vote on confirming Gorsuch to the lifetime job on the nation's highest court.
Trump has called on Senate Republicans to change the long-standing rules in order to allow a simple majority vote on confirmation if Democrats mount a filibuster. If eventually confirmed as expected, the federal appeals court judge from Colorado would restore a conservative majority on the nine-seat high court, fulfilling one of Trump's top campaign promises.
As the Judiciary Committee opened its fourth and final day of Gorsuch's confirmation hearing, the spotlight turned to whether he gains the support of vulnerable Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018. The support of eight Democrats would short-circuit a filibuster.
"After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court," Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor, a day after Gorsuch finished marathon Judiciary Committee testimony.
"He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be 'no,' and I urge my colleagues to do the same."