One Democratic senator insists that once his party retakes the Senate — whenever that may be — Democrats will restore the 60-vote threshold needed to advance Supreme Court nominees, which was demolished by Republicans last week.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) made the vow during a Monday interview with MSNBC.
“We will ensure that for the Supreme Court, there is that special margin that any candidate has to reach because that is essential to ensuring that our country has a confidence in those people who are nominated,” Markey said. “Rather than just someone who passes a litmus test.”
Senate Republicans invoked the so-called “nuclear option” last week to change longstanding precedent and require just 51 votes to break a filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. The move was needed to confirm Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in Monday to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch was confirmed on a 54-45 vote.
If history is any guide, Democrats are unlikely to actually revive that 6o-vote threshold, particularly if they also win the White House along with the Senate majority. Though Republicans were enraged after Senate Democrats deployed the nuclear option in 2013 for all nominations other than the Supreme Court, the GOP chose to keep the lower threshold for nominees when they retook the Senate majority in 2014.
That meant members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet needed the support of just 51 senators to advance, leaving little suspense as to whether they would ultimately get confirmed.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are overwhelmingly playing defense in the 2018 midterm elections, with a map that includes 25 Democratic-held seats up for grabs — 10 of them in states that Trump won last November — compared to just nine seats held by Republicans. To win the majority, Democrats would have to successfully defend all their seats, plus defeat incumbent GOP senators in Nevada, Arizona and a third long-shot state such as Texas or Tennessee.