The United States Senate is prepared to go nuclear.
On Thursday, Democrats successfully blocked President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch.
The only workaround the obstruction is for the Senate is the “nuclear option.” It’s a parliamentary maneuver that changes Senate rules and lowers the bar to break a filibuster on a Supreme Court nominee from 60 votes to 51 votes.
It is the current precedent of the Senate to require 60 “yeas” to stop debate. The problem for Senate Republicans is they only have 52 members. Four Democrats voted with the GOP to end debate: Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
The latter three will also vote to confirm Gorsuch. However, Bennet, who co-introduced Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing, has not said if he will vote to confirm Gorsuch. Bennet has only said he will vote to break the filibuster.
After the rules change, the Senate will hold a second cloture vote, this one only requiring the simple majority. Once passed, that vote starts the clock on a 30-hour debate period, after which time the Senate votes on the Gorsuch confirmation itself, likely sometime Friday afternoon or evening.
McConnell’s invocation of the “nuclear option” is not the first time it’s been done. Then-leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, did the same thing in 2013 in response to what Democrats said was historic obstruction of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet nominees and lower-court judicial appointees.
The margin was lowered on those votes, but the threshold for Supreme Court nominations went unchanged.
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