With Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the helm, Senate Republicans voted Thursday to change the Senate rules to end a filibuster holding up the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.
President Donald Trump’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court was being held up by Democrats who were committed to a filibuster. The rules change – referred to as “the nuclear option” allows the Senate to end a filibuster and move ahead on a confirmation vote with a simple majority of the Senate rather than the previous 60 votes.
JUST IN: Senate invokes “nuclear option,” ending filibusters for Supreme Court nominees.
— Ed O’Keefe (@edatpost) April 6, 2017
The nuclear “trigger” was first pulled in 2013 to end GOP-led filibusters of then-President Obama’s executive appointments and judicial nominees. At the time, McConnell said the Democrats would live to regret their decision – and now they do. Independent Journal Review reports:
Speaking on the Senate floor before the rules change, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lamented what he argues is the beginning of the politicization of Supreme Court nominations.
“The nuclear option means the end of a long history of consensus on Supreme Court nominations,” he said.
Senate Republicans believe Schumer is contributing to that lack of consensus by engaging in what they say is a “pointless” filibuster of a highly qualified nominee. Republicans believe the Democrats forced their hand.
Many conservatives and supporters of the “nuclear option” took a “they started it” approach.
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 6, 2017
— Based Monitored 🇺🇸 (@BasedMonitored) April 6, 2017
No matter who won the presidency, it was likely the “nuclear option” would have been deployed anyway. Democrats were discussing the option in October, assuming that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency.
While every Republican voted to change the rules, not everyone was happy with it. Sen. John McCain of Arizona said it was “the beginning of the end” of the Senate.
The Senate is supposed to be a more deliberative body, acting in consensus. Many said that the “nuclear option” would transform the Senate into just another version of the House. But McCain saw an upside:
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, McCain says the Senate should be abolished if its going to be like the House. “Save the taxpayers a lot of money.”
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) April 3, 2017
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