Monday, February 06, 2017


"Political battle begins for Gorsuch confirmation" PBS NewsHour 2/1/2017


SUMMARY:  President Trump is touting the man he wants to join the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, named the night before at the White House.  The President vowed to push him through, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the "nuclear option" if Senate Democrats filibuster.  Many Democrats are still outraged by Republican obstruction of President Obama's choice.  Lisa Desjardins reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  President Trump has named his Supreme Court nominee, and now the battle begins for his confirmation.

Senators form both political parties began lining up today, and Mr. Trump warned Democrats not to filibuster.

Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

LISA DESJARDINS (NewsHour):  The President was out early today, touting the man he wants on the high court, Neil Gorsuch.

President DONALD TRUMP:  He is just a spectacular man.  I think he will be a spectacular — you tell me, how would they go about opposing him?  He's perfect in almost every way.

LISA DESJARDINS:  That at a meeting of conservative and business groups, from the Chamber of Commerce, to the National Rifle Association, to the National Right to Life Foundation.  Mr. Trump vowed to push through Gorsuch, and, if Democrats filibuster, he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should do what it takes.

President DONALD TRUMP:  If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear, because that would be an absolute shame, if a man of this quality was caught up in this web.

LISA DESJARDINS:  The so-called nuclear option, considered a monumental change in rules, would allow the Senate to confirm a nominee with a simple majority, rather than 60 votes.

Senator McConnell met with Gorsuch on Capitol Hill today.  On the Senate floor, no mention of the nuclear option.  But McConnell stressed that Democrats supported Gorsuch to be a federal appeals judge in 2006.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader:  He was confirmed [to Federal Appeals Court] without any votes in opposition.  That's right, Madam President, not a single Democrat opposed Judge Gorsuch's nomination.  Not Senator Barack Obama, not Senator Hillary Clinton, not Senators Joe Biden or Ted Kennedy.

LISA DESJARDINS:  But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said any talk of a rule change should be off the table.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader:  The answer shouldn't be to change the rules of the Senate, but to change the nominee to someone who can earn 60 votes; 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Already several Democrats said they will try to hold up Gorsuch's confirmation, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, among others.

Many are still outraged over the Republican refusal last year to consider Merrick Garland, former President Obama's pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.  As it stands, all 52 Senate Republicans are expected to support Gorsuch.  They need at least eight other votes to get to 60.  One possible factor, 23 Democratic senators are up for reelection in 2018, including 10 in states that Mr. Trump won last November.

The Senate did vote today to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.  And the nominee for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, made it out of committee on a straight, party-line vote.

In an extraordinary hearing, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee suspended their rules to push through nominees for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin; and health and human services, Tom Price, that after Democrats boycotted and froze the committee, which requires at least one Democrat be present.

In response, Republican Chairman Orrin Hatch moved to suspend that rule.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-Utah:  We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues.

COMMENT:  "Unprecedented obstruction?  Only if you ignore total obstruction by Republicans during the Obama presidency.

"Finding clues of the high court's future in Gorsuch's record" PBS NewsHour 2/1/2017


SUMMARY:  Who is Judge Neil Gorsuch, the man who could shape the conservative direction of the Supreme Court for decades?  Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal and Nina Totenberg of NPR join Miles O'Brien for a closer look at his record and the coming fight over his confirmation.

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