Judge Neil Gorsuch, US President Donald Trumps Supreme Court nominee, may fall short of the votes needed for his Senate confirmation next week, a media report said.
Gorsuch, 59, needs 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle required of high-court confirmations in the Senate, but Republicans, who hold just 52 seats, may not have the votes in a chamber that is “divided deeply along partisan lines”, The Washington Post report said on Monday.
“Republicans, however, have the votes to choose the “nuclear” option – to change the rules and allow Gorsuch’s confirmation (and others after it) to proceed on a simple majority vote,” it said.
This move upend a longstanding Senate tradition that forces the governing party to seek bipartisan support.
Gorsuch has been on the Denver-based US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit for the past decade, according to The Washington Post report.
On Monday, the Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on Gorsuch for one week at the request of Democrats.
Republican leaders are hoping to confirm him by April 7, when a two-week congressional recess is scheduled to begin, so that Gorsuch can join the court by late April for the final cases of its term that ends in June.
Trump nominated him to fill the Supreme Court seat made vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.
Republicans believe that Gorsuch will be confirmed despite Democratic opposition – a threat that suggests they are prepared to make the procedural change allowing a simple majority vote.