An interview between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and NBC host Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” became heated Sunday when Todd pressed the Democratic senator over his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Todd began by reminding Schumer of comments a member of his caucus recently made about the Gorsuch situation. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said last week that she would be voting for Gorsuch, although she still isn’t happy how Merrick Garland was treated by Senate Republicans. But Heitkamp said “two wrongs don’t make a right” and Senate Democrats shouldn’t punish Gorsuch for what happened in the past.
“Why not give Neil Gorsuch an up or down vote, Senator Schumer?” Todd pressed.
Schumer, in typical fashion, completely ignored the question. Instead, he issued a proposal. Schumer said that President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans and Democrats should come together and decide on a “mainstream nominee,” given that Gorsuch will likely not reach the 60 vote threshold needed for confirmation.
“Look, when a nominee doesn’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules,” Schumer said. “You should change the nominee.”
Schumer went on to bash Republicans for not holding hearings on Garland last year and said that now that Democrats are in a position to block Trump’s nominee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shouldn’t change Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch.
“The other side didn’t get their nominee,” Schumer said. “Sit down and worth with us and we will produce a mainstream nominee.”
But Todd wasn’t buying what Schumer was trying to sell. He wanted to know why Republicans should sit down to work with Democrats when it was Democrats who first used the “nuclear option” in the Senate to bypass the 60 vote requirement.
Schumer responded by saying that he doesn’t regret his support for changing the rules in 2013 to confirm lower court justices — much to the chagrin of Republicans — but said that it would be different if Republicans did it for a Supreme Court nominee. Schumer cited “tradition” of the court in his opposition to changing the rules for Gorsuch.
“Then why did you change the rules in the first place?” Todd grilled.
Schumer didn’t really answer the question and again reiterated his desire for Trump to nominate a more “mainstream” candidate.
Watch the exchange below:
In addition to Heitkamp, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) have said they will vote for Gorsuch later this week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on Monday and the vote will go to the full Senate later in the week. McConnell said Sunday that Gorsuch “will be” confirmed, but the process by which it happens is up to Senate Democrats.
By Chris Enloe