McConnell Offers Confidence on Government Funding, Gorsuch

Updated on
  • Democrats won’t want to take the blame, Republican leader says
  • Schumer says Trump’s court nominee won’t reach 60-vote margin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s confident that Congress will avoid a government shutdown at the end of April, and that the Senate will confirm Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick this week -- even as his Democratic counterpart said Neil Gorsuch doesn’t have 60 votes in favor.

The Kentucky Republican weighed in on the first discussions about government-wide spending of President Donald Trump’s administration on “Fox News Sunday,” saying the appropriations committees of the House and Senate were “working on the bills on a bipartisan basis” to fund the government after April 28.

“We’ll be talking to Senate Democrats,” he said. “It will require 60 votes.”

McConnell said Republicans and Democrats would “negotiate” about the Trump administration’s priorities: initial funding to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, cuts to domestic programs, and increases in military spending.

The resulting bill will fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, McConnell said.

McConnell added that he is “confident Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government” because Congress, rather than the president, tends to get the blame in public opinion when such events occur.

Nuclear Option

Separately, McConnell said he didn’t know whether there would be eight Democratic votes to overcome a possible filibuster of Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate majority leader suggested that he is ready to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and change the rules of the Senate to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

“What I’m telling you is that Judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed,” McConnell said. “The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who helped end use of the filibuster for non-Supreme Court nominees in 2013, said he believes that Gorsuch will not attract 60 votes.

The Senate Judiciary Committee votes Monday on advancing Gorsuch’s nomination. McConnell has promised a final up-or-down confirmation vote on April 7.

For a QuickTake on partisanship and the Supreme Court, click here.

Only three Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have announced support for Gorsuch.

“Instead of changing the rules, which is up to Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority, why doesn’t President Trump, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee?” the New York Democrat said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“When a nominee doesn’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules.” Schumer said. “You should change the nominee.”

Trump has told McConnell that he should change the rules if Gorsuch’s nomination gets stalled.

“I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Trump said Feb. 1, a day after announcing the nomination. “Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”

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