Fifteen Democrats (and one Independent) remain undecided on whether to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, according to one news outlet’s recent count.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee on Monday, April 3; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that a vote to confirm Gorsuch will take place on the Senate floor on Friday, April 7. The Senate goes on a two-week recess after that.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called for a filibuster, which would force Republicans to win 60 votes for Gorsuch’s nomination. Thirty Democrats (including Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont) have said they’ll support the filibuster.
Republicans have threatened to employ the so-called “nuclear option,” changing the rules to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority—though the move would be controversial and could come back to bite the GOP when they are no longer in the majority.
It is not clear that all Republicans would back McConnell’s use of the nuclear option. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, said this week that while she supports Gorsuch’s nomination, she wasn’t sure if she would vote for the rule change. “I don’t want to change the rules of the Senate, and I hope we’re not confronted with that choice,” she said.
Meanwhile, NBC News says the following Democrats (and one Independent) remain undecided on the filibuster:
- Ben Cardin (Md.)
- Bob Menendez (N.J.)
- Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
- Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.)
- Chris Coons (Del.)
- Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
- Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)
- Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
- Jon Tester (Mont.)
- Maria Cantwell (Wash.)
- Mark Warner (Va.)
- Michael Bennet (Colo.)
- Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
- Richard Blumenthal (Conn.)
- Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)
- Angus King (Maine)
Several of those senators—such as Cardin and Leahy—have announced their opposition to Gorsuch, but haven’t come down firmly on a filibuster.
Only two Democrats—Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota—have signaled they would oppose the filibuster, but even those two senators have hesitated to be definitive about it.
The Washington Post‘s whip count, updated Wednesday, was similar.
The progressive group Demand Progress on Wednesday launched a new online tool it hopes will drive tens of thousands of constituent phone calls to the Senate over the next week opposing Gorsuch’s nomination. The tool, found at CallOutGorsuch.com, specifically targets “fence-sitting Democrats who are deciding whether to join an expected filibuster,” according to a press statement.
“As the Senate prepares to consider Gorsuch’s nomination, Democrats are deciding whether they will stand with everyday Americans or with big business and authoritarianism,” said Demand Progress executive director David Segal. “This is no time for compromise—Gorsuch is an extremist who has demonstrated that he will side against ordinary Americans essentially whenever afforded an opportunity.”
“Considering nominations to the Supreme Court is one of the most consequential actions a senator can take,” Segal continued. “Any Democrat selling out their constituents and their party by rubber-stamping Trump’s takeover of the Supreme Court should expect to hear from their constituents loud and clear.”
Anti-Gorsuch protests are scheduled to take place nationwide on Saturday under the banner “People’s Filibuster,” while MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) are reportedly taking specific aim at Manchin.
“Any Democratic senator who doesn’t filibuster Gorsuch hurts not only their own standing, but makes the entire party look weak—dampening enthusiasm among the grassroots and swing voters Democrats need to fire up in 2018,” said PCCC spokeswoman Kait Sweeney.