Frustrated Republicans prepare for the nuclear option

Apr 05, 2017, 01:00

WASHINGTON Democrats have secured the votes to block President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee under current rules, putting the Senate on a partisan collision course over confirming Neil Gorsuch to a lifetime appointment that could reverberate for decades.

For some Democrats, their resistance to Gorsuch is payback for Republicans not holding a hearing on former President Barack Obama's 11th hour nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

The Senate's Republican leaders insist Gorsuch will be confirmed on the Senate floor on Friday regardless of what the Democrats do. Michael Bennet of Colorado said he would not vote to filibuster Gorsuch, but has not said yet whether he will back the nominee on a final confirmation vote.

Though he said Monday that he would vote with McConnell for the move, Sen.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain on nuclear option: "Dark day" in Senate history McCain: Trump inaction on Syria is "disgraceful chapter" in U.S. history Dems force Senate "nuclear" showdown MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday expressed sorrow about the growing likelihood that Senate Republicans will invoke the "nuclear option" to end filibusters on Supreme Court justice confirmations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, should he proceed to the nuclear option, needs only a simple majority of 51 to vote for a change in rules.

The change is known as the "nuclear option", and senators of both parties lament it will further erode the Senate's bipartisan traditions and contribute to the political polarization besetting the nation. "Judge Gorsuch is independent, fair and has one of the most impressive resumes you will ever see". Sixty votes are now required to advance his nomination.

"First of all, I think it's important to recognize that there is absolutely no basis for filibustering such an eminently qualified nominee", Collins said. A divided Senate Judiciary Committee backed Gorsuch, Monday, April 3, 2017.

"Merrick Garland - the only presidential nomination to the Supreme Court, in the history of the United States Senate, to be denied a hearing and a vote", Durbin said. After the "nuclear option", the Senate will vote again to invoke cloture on a simple majority vote. He dismissed the idea that Republicans have no choice but to change the rules as "a premise that no one should swallow". And though predicting a justice's votes can be hard, confirmation of the 49-year-old Gorsuch is expected to restore the conservative majority that existed while Scalia was alive and that majority could be expanded in coming decades if Republicans remain in control of the process.

The next vacancy the president fills will likely tip the balance of the court.

Gorsuch will be confirmed "and he should be", John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said during Monday's debate.

Schumer said removing the 60-vote threshold for controversial matters would cripple the Senate.

Democrats claim the Republicans' treatment of Garland was worse than anything they ever did or are doing, and with Trump in the White House they are under intense pressure from liberal voters to oppose the president on every front.

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