Dems force one-week de­lay on com­mit­tee’s Gor­such vote

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Mary Clare Jalonick

wash­ing­ton» Se­nate Democrats on Mon­day forced a one-week de­lay in a com­mit­tee vote on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee, who re­mains on track for con­fir­ma­tion with solid Repub­li­can back­ing.

Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, R-Iowa, chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, an­nounced that, as ex­pected, Democrats have re­quested a post­pone­ment. The com­mit­tee vote on Judge Neil Gor­such now will be April 3.

As the com­mit­tee read­ies to vote, three ad­di­tional Democrats said they are likely to vote against the Den­ver­based ap­peals court judge. Florida Sen. Bill Nel­son and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said they will vote against Gor­such, and Ver­mont Sen. Pa­trick Leahy tweeted that he still was un­de­cided but in­clined to op­pose him. Leahy is a se­nior mem­ber of the Ju­di­ciary panel and a for­mer chair­man.

That means at least 17 Democrats and in­de­pen­dents, led by Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have an­nounced their op­po­si­tion to the Den­ver­based ap­peals court judge, ar­gu­ing that Gor­such has ruled too often against work­ers and in fa­vor of cor­po­ra­tions.

The Democrats who have an­nounced their op­po­si­tion also have said they will try to block the nom­i­nee, meaning Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., will have to hold a pro­ce­dural vote re­quir­ing 60 votes to move for­ward. The Se­nate GOP has a 52-48 ma­jor­ity, meaning McCon­nell will need sup­port from at least eight Democrats or in­de­pen­dents.

It was un­clear whether he would be able to get the 60 votes. If he doesn’t, McCon­nell seems ready to change Se­nate rules and con­firm him with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity.

Repub­li­cans had hoped that they’d see some sup­port from the 10 Democrats run­ning for re-elec­tion in states won by Trump in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but four of those se­na­tors — Nel­son, Penn­syl­va­nia Sen. Bob Casey, Ohio Sen. Sher­rod Brown and Wis­con­sin Sen. Tammy Bald­win — have said they will op­pose the nom­i­nee.

Leahy, how­ever, sig­naled that he may be will­ing to break from Schumer and vote with Repub­li­cans on the pro­ce­dural vote, while also sig­nal­ing in a sep­a­rate tweet he’d vote against Gor­such in the fi­nal, up-or-down vote.

“I am never in­clined to fil­i­buster a SCOTUS nom,” Leahy tweeted. “But I need to see how Judge Gor­such an­swers my writ­ten Qs, un­der oath, be­fore de­cid­ing.”

Sev­eral Democrats have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with the lack of an­swers Gor­such gave dur­ing two lengthy days of ques­tion­ing at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing last week, crit­i­ciz­ing him for de­clin­ing to give his per­sonal views on most is­sues, in­clud­ing abor­tion, cam­paign fi­nance and oth­ers they asked him about. They also ex­pressed con­cerns that he wouldn’t be an in­de­pen­dent voice from Trump, who nom­i­nated him in Jan­uary.

“Ju­di­cial phi­los­o­phy is im­por­tant, and he just wouldn’t go there,” Hirono said shortly af­ter she an­nounced her op­po­si­tion.

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