Senate GOP exercises ‘nuclear option’ allowing confirmation of Gorsuch to proceed

L-R: Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Charles Schumer of New York. In the photo on the left, McConnell signals a thumbs-up as he leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill Thursday, after leading the GOP majority to change Senate rules and lower the vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority in order to advance Judge Neil Gorsuch to a confirmation vote. In the photo on the right, Schumer walks to his office on Capitol Hill before the Senate showdown over the nomination process Thursday. District of Columbia, April 6, 2017 | AP Photos by J. Scott Applewhite, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) – Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” rewriting the chamber’s rules to allow Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch to ascend to the Supreme Court.

Furious Democrats objected until the end, but their efforts to block the nomination failed. First Democrats mounted a filibuster in an effort to block Gorsuch by denying him the 60 votes needed to advance to a final vote.

In this photo taken on, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the Capitol in seen from the Supreme Court Building in Washington. District of Columbia, April 4, 2017 | AP Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, St. George News

Then Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky raised a point of order, suggesting that Supreme Court nominees should not be subjected to a 60-vote threshold but instead a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.

McConnell was overruled, but appealed the ruling. And on that he prevailed on a 52-48 party line vote. The 60-vote filibuster requirement on Supreme Court nominees was effectively gone.

A final confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday and he could then be sworn in in time to take his seat on the court later this month and hear the final cases of the term.

The maneuvering played out with much hand-wringing from all sides about the future of the Senate, as well as unusually bitter accusations and counter-accusations as each side blamed the other. The rules change is known as the “nuclear option” because of its far-reaching implications.

McConnell accused Democrats of forcing his hand by trying to filibuster a highly qualified nominee in Gorsuch, 49, a 10-year veteran of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver with a consistently conservative record. McConnell vowed that the rules change would block the Gorsuch filibuster, and all future ones, a change many lawmakers lamented could lead to an even more polarized Senate, court and country.

“This will be the first, and last, partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee,” McConnell declared. “This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet, and it cannot and will not stand.”

Senators on both sides of the aisle lamented the trajectory they were on, though they themselves were in position to prevent it from happening and failed to do so.

“We will sadly point to today as a turning point in the history of the Senate and the Supreme Court,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said.

Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said roughly 10 senators of both parties worked over the weekend to come up with a deal to stave off the “nuclear option” but couldn’t come to agreement.

In 2005, a bipartisan deal headed off GOP plans to remove the filibuster barrier for lower-court nominees, but in 2013 Democrats took the step, leaving the filibuster in place only for Supreme Court justices.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, senior member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, addressing the Senate Wednesday night pledging his support for the nominee, outlined the history of the judicial confirmation process, including 30 years of Democrat obstruction of the confirmation process and what he called countless demonstrations of bad faith in blocking, stalling and smearing Republican nominees throughout the judicial confirmation process.

Watch the video: Hatch’s outline of the history of the confirmation process

With the final vote set for Friday, Gorsuch counts 55 supporters in the Senate: the 52 Republicans, along with three moderate Democrats from states that Trump won last November — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. A fourth Senate Democrat, Michael Bennet from Gorsuch’s home state of Colorado, refused to join in the filibuster but announced Thursday he would vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Written by ERICA WERNER, AP Congressional Correspondent. Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press as to AP portion. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Balance

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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6 Comments

  • RealMcCoy April 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Let’s not allow the liberals to forget who started changing the rules- Harry Reid and the Dems. Did you forget that important fact?
    I’ll spell it out for the likes of “mmsandie” and others like her (I’ll even use a liberal media site!):

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/senate-nuclear-filibuster-rules/story?id=20964700

    What does it report? Here are the highlights:

    The Senate voted 52 to 48 to change the rules to allow the president’s judicial and executive nominees to be confirmed with only 51 votes. (Simple ‘majority rule’)

    The Senate vote effectively eliminates the use of filibusters against presidential nominees (no more blocking a vote)

    “This is the way it has to be,” Senate Majority Leader said. “The Senate has changed.” (We changed the rules to suit our needs)

    The President lauded the Senate historic change of filibuster rules, saying the partisan obstruction in Congress “just isn’t normal.”

    Why is this important to the upset and fuming liberals today?

    BECAUSE THIS WAS LESS THAN 4 YEARS AGO WHEN THE DEMOCRATS HAD ALL THE POWER!
    That’s right! Today the Republicans did EXACTLY what the Democrats did!

    In November 2013, ABCNEWS reported:
    Majority Leader Harry Reid had warned earler today that he was prepared to make good on his threat to change the rules of the Senate to thwart Republican attempts to filibuster President Obama’s nominees, declaring, “It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete.”
    President Obama lauded Senate Democrats’ historic change of filibuster rules, saying the partisan obstruction in Congress “just isn’t normal.”

    So there it is, the Republicans did the same thing the Democrats did only 4 short years ago, except now the Dems are upset about it.

    Remember this important fact too: Not a single Democrat voted against Neil Gorsuch when he was nominated to the 10th circuit Court of appeals. He was unanimously approved by all members, but now that he’s been nominated for Supreme Court Justice by President Trump he’s the worst judge ever…..

    Hey Dems, your bias is showing.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic April 6, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      RealMcCoy – Sen. Hatch gives his outline of historical events in the confirmation processes, linked in the report.

      • RealMcCoy April 7, 2017 at 11:19 am

        I wasn’t calling out STGNEWS on this; it was directed to the people dems and liberals that like to comment and WILL be commenting on how ‘unfair’ it is that the Republicans did this.
        I watched the video, it was very concise, however most people will not watch the link or will just claim it’s Hatch making things up.
        Cite the very sources that the snowflakes cling to for their news and they cannot (logically) refute it.

  • utahdiablo April 6, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Enjoy the next 25 years Libtards….then when the next judge retires or drops ( in the next 3-4 years for sure ) we will put in another conservative judge under the nuke option, so enjoy folks, it’s here to stay in your lifetime anyway

  • Rainbow Dash April 7, 2017 at 11:51 am

    In my opinion, and speaking as a liberal, Justice Gorsuch will be a valued addition to SCOTUS. From what I know of his record he seems to be an intelligent and fair man who loves the law and the American people.

    Reading comments, like those posted above, I can’t help but recall that movie “Dave”. In the movie, a temp agency owner becomes President and reaches across the aisle to fix the problems Americans faced in the movie.

    Putting a man like Dave into office would be a good start but it would require much more Here are some of my ideas for improving our situation:
    1.) Impose strict term limits of 2-3 terms at most (12 years is enough time, imo) for all state and federal political positions.
    2) Americans need to get out and vote. The option to do a “straight party ticket” should be eliminated.
    3) Election volunteers should not be allowed to ask about political affiliation or if a voter wants to vote for any particular party.
    4) Eliminate special interest groups like the NRA. They do nothing for anybody anyway.
    5)completely separate church and state. People can vote however they want but church leaders should not be allowed to influence or appear to influence the way their members vote IN ANY WAY! If they choose to interfere, they lose their church status. The same goes for the legislative process.
    6) Lastly, get rid of the electoral college or only use it if the outcome is <1%

    • RealMcCoy April 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      Hey there Dash!
      Looks like we mostly agree for once!

      1.) Impose strict term limits of 2-3 terms at most (12 years is enough time, imo) for all state and federal political positions.
      – AGREED, AND WAY OVERDUE!

      2) Americans need to get out and vote. The option to do a “straight party ticket” should be eliminated.
      – AGREED!

      3) Election volunteers should not be allowed to ask about political affiliation or if a voter wants to vote for any particular party.
      – Never had that happen to me, but I’m sure it happens, so AGREED!

      4) Eliminate special interest groups like the NRA. They do nothing for anybody anyway.
      – NRA is not solely a special interest group. It has memberships of people, and benefits to those to have joined. They actually do a lot of stuff for a lot of people, namely helping to protect Americans 2nd Amendment rights and keeping an eye on the crazy laws that politicians keep trying to pass. Have to DISAGREE on this point.

      5)completely separate church and state. People can vote however they want but church leaders should not be allowed to influence or appear to influence the way their members vote IN ANY WAY! If they choose to interfere, they lose their church status. The same goes for the legislative process.
      – AGREED, and overdue!

      6) Lastly, get rid of the electoral college or only use it if the outcome is <1%
      – that's a loaded statement. To get rid of the electoral college means the voting process becomes a de-facto 'mob rule'. A HEAVY overhaul of voting processes would have to occur, including mandatory ID checks for voting, along with proof of residency and a background check before a vote is allowed. There is rampant voter fraud across the board, and deniers of that should really consider their sources.
      This elimination would also change the way those running for office ran their campaigns. Many voters did not vote because their state was 'always' (but now not always) the same electoral vote to the same party. California could have been a very different outcome if the Republicans hadn't felt their vote was a waste of time.

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