Joe Donnelly Becomes Third Democratic Senator To Back Neil Gorsuch

Inching closer to 60 votes.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) says he will vote to confirm federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, becoming the third Democratic senator to back President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

“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 released on Sunday.

The moderate Democratic senator said he was “deeply disappointed” at how Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court, but that as a senator, he could “only vote on the nominee that comes to the Senate floor.”

Donnelly also said he supported retaining a 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted that “it looks like Gorsuch will not reach the 60-vote margin” needed to overcome a filibuster.

During a separate interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed that Gorsuch would indeed be confirmed, whether by 60 votes or less ― leaving open the possibility of triggering the so-called “nuclear option” on Supreme Court nominees.

“The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority,” he said.

Donnelly joins Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota as the only Democratic senators intending to vote for Gorsuch. All three senators are facing tough re-election bids next year. Seven Democratic senators have not yet announced how they will vote on the nomination.

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