New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, is confident President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, will be confirmed — one way or another.
In an interview with New York’s NY1, Gillibrand urged her fellow Democrats to “vote their conscience” on the Supreme Court pick but admitted that she thinks Gorsuch will be approved. “Ultimately, yeah, I believe he will be,” she said.
“I hope we do vote him down. But make no mistake: If we do hold the line with 60 votes, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell will change the rules the next day,” the senator said. “I do not have any hope that he won’t change the rules the minute he doesn’t get his way. So it likely will be 51 votes, regardless, at any given time that a nominee is blocked.”
Gillibrand argued that Gorsuch will either get the 60 votes needed to end a Democratic filibuster or McConnell will invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” which would lower the vote threshold to a simple majority for Supreme Court nominees. The “nuclear option” is accomplished by overruling the parliamentarian with a simple majority rather than with the 67-vote majority that is typically required for a rules change.
The New York lawmaker, who has been floated as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, is opposed to Gorsuch “because he is so ultra-right-wing conservative.”
While President Donald Trump has urged McConnell to “go nuclear” on Gorsuch’s confirmation, the Senate majority leader has been reluctant to do so. He told Politico last month that whether or not the “nuclear option” is used is “not a presidential decision.”
In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used the nuclear option to change the rules to allow a simple majority to approve former President Barack Obama’s executive branch appointees and all judicial nominations except the Supreme Court.