Greg Sargent (Washington Post/Plum Line) previews this week in the US Senate as (1) the Judiciary Committee votes to send the Gorsuch nomination to the full Senate, (2) the Senate Dems are likely to filibuster it and they have the votes to do it, but (3) McConnell is likely to change the rules and employ the “nuclear option” to confirm the nomination.
SHOWDOWN THIS WEEK ON GORSUCH: CNN reports that Democrats probably won’t supply enough votes for Republicans to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which may trigger GOP elimination of the filibuster:
With only three Democrats saying they will back the 49-year-old Coloradan, it’s increasingly likely Gorsuch can’t get the 60 votes he needs to overcome a Democratic filibuster. … Many senators are worried that the if Republicans weaken the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, in the same way Democrats did for all other presidential appointments in 2013, the chamber would be on a slippery slope and the filibuster for legislation could someday be diminished too.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that this week will end with confirmation of Gorsuch, one way or the other, which sounds like a threat to go nuclear.
As expected, Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee Approved Gorsuch in Party-Line Vote (changed by Scriber to past tense) thus setting the stage for the next battle - a filibuster: Senate Democrats Poised to Filibuster Gorsuch Nomination.
The Republicans’ defense of Gorsuch and their attack on the Senate Dems’ filibuster is hypocritical - underscore hypo! Steve Benen (MSNBC/Maddow Blog) lists Majority Leader McConnell’s talking points and then skewers each one with facts. McConnell dissembles as Supreme Court fight enters the home stretch.
[On Meet the Press] … McConnell … came armed with a series of talking points, each of which were based on obvious errors of fact and/or judgment:
Reflecting on the Merrick Garland nomination, and his party’s unprecedented blockade, McConnell said, “[T]he tradition had been not to confirm vacancies created in the middle of a presidential year…. We were right in the middle of a presidential election year.” First, Garland was nominated in March, which isn’t the middle of an election year, and second, no such tradition exists in reality.
McConnell, pointing to the election results, argued, “The American people decided they wanted Donald Trump to make the nomination, not Hillary Clinton.” In reality, Americans preferred Clinton to Trump by nearly 3 million votes. (Trump won by way of the electoral college, not “the American people.”)
McConnell added, “What’s before us now Chuck is not what happened last year.” That’s backwards: there’s a Supreme Court vacancy because of what happened last year. What’s before us now is the direct result of the events in 2016.
McConnell insisted, “There’s no rational basis, no principled reason for voting against Neil Gorsuch.” Given that McConnell imposed a year-long blockade on a qualified, compromise nominee in a raw display of maximalist partisanship, the GOP leader long ago forfeited the right to talk about “principles.”
Pointing to a rule that doesn’t exist, McConnell concluded, “You don’t fill Supreme Court vacancies in the middle of a presidential election. That’s what Joe Biden said back in 1992.” That’s not even close to what Joe Biden said back in 1992.
And while it’s problematic for the Senate Majority Leader to make untrue claims about a Supreme Court nomination fight, let’s also note how bizarre it is for McConnell to focus so heavily on process. A year ago, the Kentucky Republican imposed an unprecedented Supreme Court blockade, refusing to give a compromise nominee a hearing, a debate, or a vote.
McConnell doesn’t seem to understand this – or at least he’s pretending not to – but he’s effectively asking the Senate to honor the dictates of a rule book he set fire to last year.
The fire was lit when McConnell denied Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland even a conversation, the reason being that McConnell just did not want for Garland the up-or-down-vote that he now wants for Gorsuch.