Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was feeling pretty bummed out when former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump. That is, until the Almighty reminded him of his importance.
Schumer told Politico he was down for about three days following the Nov. 8 election and did not feel encouraged until the fourth day. “It was like a thunderbolt hit me, almost a message from God,” he said.
“I said to myself, ‘If Hillary won, and you were majority leader, the job would be more fun and it would be a lot easier. And, most importantly, you’d get to do some good things, but with Trump as president, and you as minority leader, the job is much more important,’ ” the senator said. “That has fueled me ever since.”
Schumer also discussed the looming Senate battles over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the potential for a government shutdown next month. In the minority leader’s mind, Democrats are poised to win on both fronts.
“[Republicans are] in charge. Government shuts down, it’s on their back. We have leverage,” he said, adding that he also thinks the Democrats will be able to block Gorsuch from filling the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the high court.
Schumer said he does not think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has the votes to invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” which would be implemented by overruling the parliamentarian with a bare majority — rather than the 67-vote majority traditionally needed for a rules change — that would lower the threshold of votes needed to confirm Gorsuch from 60 to a simple majority of 51 votes, sidestepping the threat of a filibuster from the Democrats.
Schumer’s predecessor, former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), changed the rules in 2013 to allow a simple majority vote for former President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees and all judicial nominations save Supreme Court appointments.
“There’s been an almost seismic shift in the caucus” against Gorsuch, according to Schumer. And as for the possibility McConnell might change the rules, the Democrat said: “I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion. … There are people in his caucus who really don’t want to change the rules, OK?”
Last week, Schumer made it clear that Senate Democrats plan to filibuster Gorsuch’s confirmation.
“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” he said at the time. “His nomination will have a cloture vote. He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be ‘no,’ and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
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