UPDATE: Senate Republicans invoke ‘nuclear option’, virtually guaranteeing Gorsuch’s confirmation

UPDATE 2 — 4/6, 12:46 p.m. EDT: In a party line 52–48 vote Thursday, the U.S. Senate effectively shutdown a Democratic filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch that began Wednesday, changing parliamentary rules to allow a simple majority to bring a confirmation vote to the floor.

Previous to invoking the so-called “nuclear option”, Senate Republicans failed to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination which had previously required a super-majority of 60 votes. 

 

UPDATE — 7:03 p.m. EDT: CNN is reporting that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has set a vote for Thursday to change parliamentary rules allowing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed with a simple majority of 51 votes.

In order for the new rule to be approved, 51 senators are required to vote “Yea” on McConnell’s “nuclear option”, which would specifically allow filibusters to be ended with a simple majority of senators, instead of the current 60.

 

One day following Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offering vastly different accounts of the future of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch‘s future on Sunday talk shows, the nomination moved forward Monday with approval of the Judiciary Committee.

Setting up what is expected to be a bitter Senate fight, the Judiciary Committee voted along party lines, 11–9, in favor of Gorsuch’s nomination to proceed.

During separate appearances Sunday, McConnell said on Fox News Sunday Gorsuch would eventually be confirmed “one way or another” and Schumer conveyed on NBC’s Meet the Press he envisioned Gorsuch would not earn 60 votes to forestall a filibuster.

Similarly, Schumer added opposition to Gorsuch required President Trump to withdraw the Colorado judge in favor of a “mainstream” candidate.

Following Schumer’s Sunday prediction Gorsuch would fail to earn 60 Senate votes needed to avert a filibuster, Delaware’s Chris Coons became the 41st senator to announce his opposition to Gorsuch on Monday afternoon, citing the judge’s activist conservative approach to interpreting constitutional law and unwillingness to answer committee questions during hearings.

Currently, 43 Senate Democrats oppose Gorsuch’s nomination to the bench.

“We are at a historic moment in the history of the United States Senate”, announced Coons. “We have eroded the process for reaching agreement and dishonored our long traditions of acting above partisanship.”

By Monday’s end, 56 senators, including Democrats Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Michael Bennett (Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), joined 52 Republicans in support of cloture.

Although the GOP has been hesitant to openly discuss breaking Senate rules in order to elevate Gorsuch to the High Court, two GOP senators, Arizona’s John McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, expressed a willingness to support such a move after Coons joined Democrats in their bid to block Gorsuch.

McCain told reporters he has “no choice” but to go along with Leader McConnell should he move to exercise the “nuclear option;” Graham later revealed regret over a potential rules change, but said “it looks like we’re going to have to (change Senate rules).”

Responding to Democrats’ demands Gorsuch’s nomination be withdrawn, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Judiciary Committee members:

“If Judge Gorsuch is unacceptable to our Democratic colleagues, there will never be a nominee by this president that you will find acceptable. Never.”

A Thursday vote is expected to limit debate followed by a Friday floor vote to confirm or deny Gorsuch’s seat on the court.

 

[Roll Call] [Politico] [AP] [Breitbart] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy GQ]

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