Third Senate Democrat announces support for judge

Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-02 17:44:35-04

Sen. Joe Donnelly announced Sunday that he will support the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch, conducting a thorough review of his record, and closely following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe that he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well-respected among his peers,” the Indiana Democrat said in a statement.

Donnelly is the third Senate Democrat to support Gorsuch, joining Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

CNN’s whip list has 36 Democrats saying or suggesting they will filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination. Another two Democrats say they’ll oppose Gorsuch in the final confirmation vote, but it’s unclear where they will stand on a potential filibuster.

In his statement, Donnelly added the Senate “should keep the current 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.”

Earlier Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would be able to unite enough Democrats to deny Gorsuch the 60 votes the Republican leadership will need to overcome a filibuster.

“It’s highly, highly unlikely that he’ll get 60,” Schumer said.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged on the same show that Gorsuch would soon be seated on the high court.

“Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week,” McConnell said. “How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends. How many of them are willing to oppose cloture on a partisan basis to kill a Supreme Court nominee.”

If Schumer is able to halt the vote, McConnell could move to change the rules of the Senate by invoking what is referred to as the “nuclear option,” which would allow the leadership to overcome a filibuster of Supreme Court nominations with a simple majority, or at least 51 votes. Republicans hold a slim, 52-48 majority in the chamber.

McConnell announced last week that, regardless of Schumer’s filibuster threat, the Senate would vote on Gorsuch this Friday before lawmakers leave Washington for a two-week recess.