Senate clashes over Trump Supreme Court pick

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2017

Senators began debating the nomination Tuesday morning, and by the evening Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had filed a motion for cloture - a motion to cut off debate and call for a vote.

Republicans argue that Gorsuch is an eminently qualified judge and Democrats are obstructing because they and their base are upset that Trump is president. Republicans hold 52 seats.

At that point, McConnell will turn to the nuclear option by essentially declaring from the Senate floor that from now on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees can be stopped with 51 votes not 60, as has been the case for decades.

A final vote is expected by the end of this week.

Senate Democrats have assembled enough votes to mount a filibuster that would block consideration of President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, setting up a fight over the chamber's rules that is expected to result in the triggering of the "nuclear option" by Republicans.

Following Merkley on the floor, McConnell ridiculed the opposition from Democrats.

For starters, it could hurt them next time they're in the minority. "They need to reconsider".

Only four have done so to date.

Republicans, however, who three weeks ago were divided closely on whether or not the filibuster should be eliminated, now say they would get rid of it by almost two to one.

McConnell stressed that "there's no sentiment" among Senate Republicans for overhauling the filibuster on legislation, which typically forces the Senate to compromise and get buy-in from the minority.

Senator John McCain fumed to reporters that whoever thought it was a good idea to blow up longstanding Senate rules "is a stupid idiot".

"Republicans aren't going to be played for suckers and chumps", Cotton said on the Senate floor.

But the problem is, the Democrats have the power to stop the nomination from even coming to a vote.

Now, the vacant seat on the high court is to be taken by Gorsuch - much to the outrage of seething Senate Democrats like Merkley. "The majority said, "We intend to pack the court of the United States of America". "Again, such a theft has never, ever happened in the history of our nation".

Still, McConnell's relative nonchalance about changing the rules contrasts with the comments of some of his Republican colleagues, who have said they have grave concerns. Sen.

"This fallout will be dangerously and perhaps disastrously radioactive for the Senate for years to come", he said.

It looks like all but a done deal, with a number of Republicans who'd helped negotiate agreements in past years saying they were ready to back the nuclear option.

But Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing, blocking his nomination in the hopes a Republican president would nominate a replacement for Scalia. That nomination was withdrawn by Trump and replaced with Gorsuch's nomination.

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