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 held April 3.
At least 15 Democrats and independents, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have announced their opposition to the Denver-based appeals court judge, arguing that Gorsuch has ruled too often against workers and in favor of corporations.
Several Democrats have expressed frustration with the lack of answers Gorsuch gave during two lengthy days of questioning at his confirmation hearing last week. They also expressed concerns that he wouldn't be an independent voice from Trump, who nominated him in January.
But the nominee is supported by all Republican senators, and the GOP has a 52-48 majority. Republicans praised Gorsuch's testimony, saying he showed humility and a deep understanding of legal precedent and separation of powers.
"Before the hearing started we all knew how qualified the judge is. His resume speaks for itself," Grassley said. "But last week we got to see up-close how thoughtful, articulate, and humble he is. He is clearly deeply committed to being a fair and impartial judge. And he isn't willing to compromise that independence to win votes in the Senate."
Democrats criticized Gorsuch for declining to give his personal views on most any issue, including abortion, campaign finance and others they asked him about.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, also noted at the brief meeting Monday the "depth of feeling" among Democrats after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's nominee for the same seat, Merrick Garland. Within hours of Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016, Republicans said they wouldn't take up Obama's eventual choice, saying the next president should have the say.
The Democrats who have announced their opposition have also 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. Based on the GOP edge, at least eight Democrats and independents will have to vote with Republicans.
McConnell says he hopes Gorsuch would get Democratic votes in the end, but he seems ready to change Senate rules, if necessary, to confirm him with a simple majority. He has said he hopes to confirm Gorsuch on the Senate floor by April 7, before the Senate leaves for a two-week recess and in time for the Court's April arguments.