Filibuster Busted: Senate OKs 'Nuclear Option' for Gorsuch

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to change filibuster rules after the Democratic Party blocked Neil Gorsuch's nomination for Supreme Court Justice.

Following a Democratic filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to allow a confirmation vote on Neil Gorsuch with a simple majority vote.

Republicans did previous year what Senate Democrat leaders said they would do in similar circumstances - give the American people a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.

Most Democrats remain livid with Republican leaders for refusing to even give a hearing to Merrick Garland, the judge nominated past year by Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat of conservative justice Antonin Scalia who died in February 2016.

Mr McConnell instead left open the seat to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the hope of filling it with a conservative nominee after the election.

Update at 11:46 a.m.: After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led a motion to reconsider the vote, Republicans once again failed to muster 60 yeas to invoke cloture and move Gorsuch's nomination forward.

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After that vote, McConnell quickly initiated the first of a series of parliamentary motions, points of order and rulings of the Senate chair aimed at lowering the number of votes needed to end a filibuster from three fifths, or 60, to a simple majority. The new rule - called the "nuclear option" - would allow for a simple majority of senators - 51 - to end filibusters and move the nomination along.

Senators are expected to confirm Gorsuch on Friday.

"This will be the first and last partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nomination", McConnell said prior to the votes. It's comforting to know that one of the chamber's most respected elder statesmen isn't afraid to speak his mind and to help his compatriots understand that more is at stake here than quenching their palpable thirst to jam through an intransigent Senate a nominee who, while certainly qualified, is also hardly a slam dunk. This will prevent Democrats from blocking, via filibuster, an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Four Democrats have said they will join with the 52 Republican senators to support Gorsuch.

Republicans then voted to overturn the 60-vote requirement for Supreme Court nominees.

Earlier this year, Chuck Schumer, then the incoming leader of Senate Democrats, admitted that he believed Reid's move to change the filibuster rules in 2013 was a mistake.

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"The nuclear option means the end of a long history of consensus" on high court nominees, he said. As The New York Times reported, it will forever change the way we confirm all future Supreme Court nominees.

Democrats denounced the GOP's use of what both sides dubbed the "nuclear option" to put Gorsuch on the court, calling it an epic power grab that would further corrode politics in Congress, the courts and the nation.

"This is the latest escalation in the left's never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet, and it can not and will not stand", McConnell said.

"Each side comes here today in full confidence that their side is in the right", he said.

While congressional Republicans and President Trump are now virtually guaranteed to get Gorsuch on the high court, the impact of the events that played out Thursday could be felt for years, if not decades, to come. According to The Hill, "a 52-48 vote to change the rule is expected, with all Democrats and their Independent allies opposed".

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