- With Democrats poised to filibuster the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps a brush up on filibusters and "nuclear options" might be helpful.
First, though, looms showdown votes Thursday, when 44 Democrats and independents intend to try to block Gorsuch by denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to proceed to final passage. A divided Senate Judiciary. Chris Coons of DE was at the center of talks on the Democratic side.
Merkley has described the nomination of Gorsuch as "theft" by Republicans, who failed to have a hearing or vote for Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama a year ago.
Beginning at 6:46 p.m., Merkley - who prides himself on completing ironman triathlons - spoke all night and into the morning, with just a few dozen charts and a glass of water on hand.
"I'm going to vote to change the rules because I'm not going to be part of a Senate where Democrats get their judges and Republicans can never get theirs", Graham said. The Maine senator said he initially found Neil Gorsuch to be "sincere, personable and thoughtful" but over time found the nominee's answers to be "at best, increasingly evasive, and, at worst, simply not forthright". Last week, we noted that Virginia's own Sen.
Following Merkley on the floor, McConnell ridiculed the opposition from Democrats.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to change the Senate's rules in order to eliminate the ability to use a filibuster against Supreme Court nominees.
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Thune also blamed Democrats for introducing the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees in 2003 during his call with reporters.
Republicans said at the time that Democrats would come to regret the move. So now the question is whether the Republicans have enough votes to "go nuclear" and change those procedures, essentially wiping out the ability of a minority party to filibuster a Supreme Court pick. "And that's how I see Judge Gorsuch". "We should now get in a room and come up with a compromise to avoid the nuclear option that so many Republicans are reluctant to take".
Democrats were "hurtling toward the abyss", he said, "and trying to take the Senate with them".
Graham was already calling for the nuclear option on Monday.
McConnell downplayed the significance of that change, even as other members of his caucus have said it would damage the Senate and lead to a more ideological, partisan Supreme Court. As many as 44 Democrats had meant to vote against Gorsuch's confirmation.
Both parties have historically been hesitant to do away with the filibuster.
"This is an extreme nominee from the far right who doesn't believe in the fundamental vision of "We the People" and makes decision after decision through tortured, twisted, contrived arguments defined for the powerful over the people, and that is unacceptable", Merkley said. However, McConnell pledged Tuesday that the legislative filibuster would not be removed on his watch.