McConnell confident US government will not shut down
Senate to confirm Donald Trump’s supreme court pick this week, says Republican senator
Participants wear Donald Trump masks for an event in New York City entitled “New York City’s 32nd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade: It’s a Trumpathon!”. Photograph: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says he’s confident that Congress will avoid a government shutdown at the end of April, and that the Senate will confirm Donald Trump’s supreme court pick this week – even as his Democratic counterpart said Neil Gorsuch doesn’t have 60 votes in favour.
The Kentucky Republican weighed in on the first discussions about government-wide spending of Mr Trump’s administration on Fox News Sunday, saying the appropriations committees of the House and Senate were “working on the bills on a bipartisan basis” to fund the government after April 28th.
“We’ll be talking to Senate Democrats,” he said. “It will require 60 votes.”
Mr McConnell said Republicans and Democrats would “negotiate” about the Trump administration’s priorities: initial funding to build a wall on the US border with Mexico, cuts to domestic programmes, and increases in military spending.
The resulting bill will fund the government through September 30th, the end of the current fiscal year, Mr McConnell said.
Mr McConnell added that he is “confident Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government” because Congress, rather than the president, tends to get the blame in public opinion when such events occur.
Separately, Mr McConnell said he didn’t know whether there would be eight Democratic votes to overcome a possible filibuster of judge Mr Gorsuch to replace the late justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate majority leader suggested that he is ready to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and change the rules of the Senate to end the filibuster for supreme court nominees.
“What I’m telling you is that judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed,” Mr McConnell said. “The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who helped end use of the filibuster for non-supreme court nominees in 2013, said he believes that Mr Gorsuch will not attract 60 votes.
The Senate Judiciary Committee votes Monday on advancing Mr Gorsuch’s nomination. Mr McConnell has promised a final up-or-down confirmation vote on April 7th.
Only two Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have announced support for Mr Gorsuch.
“Instead of changing the rules, which is up to Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority, why doesn’t President Trump, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee?” the New York Democrat said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
“When a nominee doesn’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules.” Mr Schumer said. “You should change the nominee.”
Mr Trump has told Mr McConnell that he should change the rules if Mr Gorsuch’s nomination gets stalled.
“I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Mr Trump said February 1st, a day after announcing the nomination.
“Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”