Two Senate Democrats—Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.—have broken ranks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his campaign to block the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Schumer is pressuring Senate Dems to support an unprecedented filibuster against Gorsuch: “If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes … the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.” However, Schumer and Sen. Harry Reid did exactly that in 2013 when they changed Senate rules to require a simple majority to approve lower court judges—not a single nominee was changed.
On the other side, NRA-ILA announced plans to score the Gorsuch vote in the upcoming elections, and is targeting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 with a $1 million ad buy, challenging them to support gun rights and confirm Gorsuch. Heitkamp was one of those targeted.
These two senators have chosen to defy Schumer’s partisanship and honor the wishes of their constituents. We’ll be watching closely to see if any of the other vulnerable senators follow suit.