Republicans use 'nuclear option' to clear the way for Gorsuch confirmation
WASHINGTON (NBC) -
Senate Republicans used the "nuclear option" Thursday to change the chamber's rules and clear the way for the confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
The rules change will enable Gorsuch to easily pass through the Senate with a simple majority instead of the now-defunct 60-vote threshold. A final confirmation vote is expected Friday.
The move by Republicans came after Senate Democrats blocked Gorsuch's nomination from advancing to a final vote earlier in the day. In a vote of 55 to 45, all but four Democrats voted to support a filibuster of the nomination, leading to the GOP rules change.
Senate Democrats Thursday blocked Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch from advancing to a final vote, a move that will prompt Republicans to change the Senate rules by using the so-called "nuclear option" to allow Gorsuch and future Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed with a simple 51-vote majority.
In a vote of 55 to 45, all but four Democrats voted to support a filibuster against a procedural motion that needed the support of 60 senators to pass to effectively halt Gorsuch's nomination in its tracks.
Democrats vow to filibuster his Supreme Court confirmation vote.
Sen. Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky said, "The opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man that nominated him and the party he represents more than the nominee himself."
Republicans, with help from President Donald Trump want to sway eight democrats and get a super majority, putting Gorsuch in the seat open because Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.
Democrats standing firm: Sen. Tim Kaine, (D) Virginia said, "I've concluded that Judge Gorsuch is definitely an activist. He may not be an activist on everything, I don't believe you have to be an activist on everything to be an activist."
Republicans say Gorsuch will get confirmed even if it means changing the rules, invoking a so-called nuclear option. Instead of 60 votes to move forward - a simple majority - 51 votes would be needed. A precedent that would change the way the Senate does business.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) Senate Minority Leader said, "We Democrats believe the answer isn't to change the rules, it's to change the nominee."
Sen. John Cornyn, (R) Texas said, "If they won't confirm Judge Gorsuch they will never vote to confirm any nominee of this president. Period."
The impasse further divides down party lines an already partisan Congress.
Republicans still have their block of 52 votes so changing the rules would get Neil Gorsuch confirmed.