“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch, conducting a thorough review of his record, and closely following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe that he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well-respected among his peers,” Donnelly said in a statement Sunday.
Donnelly joins Democratic Senators North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in announcing support for President Trump’s nominee.
There are 52 Republicans in the Senate and 48 Democrats. Republicans need eight Democrats to support Gorsuch in order to block a filibuster, but right now they have three. Over 35 Senate Democrats have announced they will not support his nomination.
“It looks like Gorsuch will not reach the 60-vote margin,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Now it looks like we have the votes to prevent Gorsuch from getting on.”
Donnelly, noting that he was “deeply disappointed” by the way Senate Republicans treated Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland last year, did say in his statement that the vote threshold should remain at 60.
If Republicans do not secure 60 votes for the nomination, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can invoke what is known as the “nuclear option,” which amends to rules to require a 51 vote majority for confirmation.
“I can tell you that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week,” McConnell said on Meet the Press. “How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends.”