Politics

McCain Meets With Democrats On Gorsuch And The Filibuster

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Republican Sen. John McCain is having informal conversations with Senate Democrats about Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, while cautioning he does not see a deal on preserving the filibuster for future nominations as a realistic prospect.

Bloomberg Politics reports that the Arizona Republican hopes to avert a confirmation showdown next week, where a successful Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination would force Republicans to change the rules of the chamber in order to end debate on his nomination, the so-called “nuclear-option.” Though Bloomberg says he hopes to reach a deal with Democrats on the nomination, the senator disputes this characterization of his efforts.

“No I’m not reaching out to the Democrats,” McCain told The Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket. “I’ve had conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. That’s all. There’s no gang. There’s no negotiations. Just having some conversations. No deal. No negotiations.”

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Chris Coons of Delaware are also said to be participating.

A spokesman for GOP Sen. Jeff Flake disputed Bloomberg’s assertion that he is participating in these discussions.

“Sen. Flake is not part of any effort to strike a deal on the filibuster,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “While he has been urging Democratic colleagues not to filibuster, he has been clear that he will do whatever is necessary to confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

Current Senate rules require the chamber to hold a procedural vote closing debate on a nomination or piece of legislation. The vote requires the support of 60 senators. By abolishing this rule, Republicans can proceed straight to a floor vote on Gorsuch’s nomination, which only needs a simple majority to pass. Senate Democrats abolished this rule for lower court and executive branch nominees in 2013, at the direction of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

McCain is one of the three remaining members of the “Gang of 14” still serving in Congress. The “gang” was a bipartisan group of senators that reached an accord on confirming Bush-era judicial nominees without invoking the nuclear option in 2005.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not weighed in on the prospect of a deal with Democrats, but insists that Gorsuch will confirmed on Friday Apr. 7, with or without Democratic support.

“We’re going to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “There will be an opportunity for the Democrats to invoke cloture. We’ll see where that ends. The Democratic Leader who will be out here shortly says that we will not get cloture, so that is a good question to ask him. But it’ll be really up to them how the process to confirm Judge Gorsuch goes forward.”

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