By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate would have a final vote on April 7 on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, even as more Democrats opposed his confirmation
The Gorsuch nomination, McConnell told reporters, will hit the Senate floor next week after the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approves him. McConnell added that Gorsuch will be “confirmed on Friday” of next week.
Senate Republicans continued to put the pressure on Democrats to lend enough support to Colorado appeals court judge Gorsuch to avoid a showdown that in turn could trigger McConnell to seek a change in Senate rules that would clear away a Democratic blockade against the nomination.
So far, about 26 of the 48 Democratic senators have publicly announced opposition to Gorsuch. Most of that group backs a growing effort to block a confirmation vote through the use of a procedural hurdle called a filibuster.
Sixty votes in the 100-seat Senate would be needed to stop a filibuster and allow a confirmation vote on Gorsuch. The confirmation would require a simple majority in favor. Republicans control the Senate 52-48.
Some Senate Republican aides suggested that if Democrats block a confirmation vote, McConnell might move quickly to change the rules. It was unclear, however, if he had enough votes to do so
Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Gorsuch will face an uphill climb to get the 60 votes he would need to avoid a showdown over Senate rules.
“The bottom line is very simple, and that is that Gorsuch did not acquit himself well at the hearings and did not impress our caucus,” Schumer said, accusing Gorsuch of siding with powerful interests and expressing concerns about his independence from the president.
“It’s going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes,” Schumer told reporters.
Trump is seeking to avoid another setback in Congress after major healthcare legislation he supported was pulled from the House of Representatives floor amid opposition within his own party on Friday.
The confirmation of Gorsuch, 49, would restore the nine-seat court’s conservative majority, a major campaign promise for Trump.
The Senate Judiciary Committee oversaw a four-day confirmation hearing for Gorsuch last week.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Lawrence Hurley.; Writing by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Eric Walsh and Cynthia Osterman)