So much for the progressive pressure from “We Will Replace You” on Capitol Hill. Roll Call sent out a questionnaire to Congressional staffers from both parties about their predictions for the current session of Congress, and 100% of Republican staffers expect Neil Gorsuch to get confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. So do 91% of Democratic staffers — and a majority of them expect Mitch McConnell to nuke the filibuster at some point along the way, too:
Of the Democratic staffers who responded to CQ Roll Call’s most recent Capitol Insiders Survey, 91 percent said Gorsuch would be confirmed. At the same time, only 41 percent — a plurality — expect that Democratic senators will even bother to filibuster the nomination. Every Republican aide who filled out the poll said Gorsuch will soon have a seat on the Supreme Court. …
Democrats’ only chance to stop Gorsuch is a filibuster. And if Democrats go that route, Republicans can simply change the rules and confirm Gorsuch on a simple majority vote, as the Democratic Senate majority did for lower-court judges and executive branch nominees in 2013.
Fifty-nine percent of the Democratic survey respondents to the survey said they expected the Republicans would make changes during this Congress to the filibuster rule, either for Supreme Court nominees, legislation or both.
Granted, this is a pretty small sample — only 65 Democratic staffers responded, while 94 GOP aides did the same. Ninety-one percent of 65 is 59 aides, which might make for a sufficient sample for an audit, but perhaps not entirely indicative of the mood on Capitol Hill. Take this with a grain or two (or three) of salt as a predictive model, in other words.
However, there’s not much to predict in this case anyway. This isn’t a matter of opinion; it is a reality. Harry Reid set the precedent in 2013, and Republicans won’t sit still for a filibuster on Gorsuch — and Democrats know it. It’s just not very likely that they’ll even attempt one. With the potential 2020 candidate Cory Booker calling for an up-or-down vote, Gorsuch is going to have a pretty smooth ride to that confirmation vote.
Roll Call points out another change from a previous iteration that may be of even more interest. Their first survey showed a majority of aides predicting an all-out blockade of the Trump agenda. Now, however, 53% of Democratic respondents prefer to work on deals with Trump if they benefit the country. That’s not going to make the progressives at “We Will Replace You” any happier … but it will make their workload a lot heavier.
Finally, Democrats may have one less nominee to kick around an eighth time. Miguel Estrada, the appellate-court nominee from the Bush administration who got filibustered seven times, had been rumored to be on Donald Trump’s shortlist for Solicitor General, a post that requires Senate confirmation. Estrada announced yesterday that he’s not interested in the job — primarily because he detests Chuck Schumer, who led the filibusters against him 14 years ago:
Estrada’s full statement: “I was immensely lucky to have the chance to serve our country years ago, but it did not work out. I have only respect and best wishes for those who agree to serve despite the deterioration of the confirmation process over the years, but everyone who knows me in this town knows that I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation or, for that matter, willingly place myself in any situation (e.g., a hearing room) in which convention requires that I be civil to Chuck Schumer.”