By Lawrence Hurley and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said 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.
Gorsuch’s nomination, McConnell told reporters, will reach the Senate next week after the Senate Judiciary Committee approves it on Monday. McConnell added that Gorsuch will be “confirmed on Friday” next week.
Senate Republicans continued to pressure Democrats to lend enough support to Colorado appellate court judge Gorsuch to avoid a showdown that in turn could lead McConnell to seek a Senate rule change that would eliminate a Democratic lock on the nomination.
So far, about 26 of the 48 Democratic senators have publicly announced their opposition to Gorsuch. Most of that group back a growing effort to block a confirmation vote through the use of a procedural hurdle called filibuster.
It would take sixty votes in the 100-seat Senate to stop an obstructionism and allow a confirmation vote on Gorsuch. Confirmation would require a simple majority in favor. Republicans control the Senate 52-48.
Some Republican Senate aides suggested that if Democrats block a confirmation vote, McConnell could act quickly to change the rules. However, it was unclear if he had enough votes to do so.
Senate Democratic 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 conclusion is very simple, and that is that Gorsuch did not perform well in the hearings and did not impress our caucus,” said Schumer, accusing Gorsuch of siding with powerful interests and expressing concern about his independence from the president.
“It’s going to be an uphill road for him to get those 60 votes,” Schumer told reporters.
Trump is trying to avoid another setback in Congress after the main health legislation he supported was withdrawn from the House of Representatives amid opposition within his own party on Friday.
Confirmation of Gorsuch, 49, would restore the court’s nine-seat conservative majority, an important campaign promise for Trump.
The Senate Judiciary Committee oversaw a four-day confirmation hearing for Gorsuch last week.
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