McConnell starts clock on Neil Gorsuch nuclear showdown

Sen. Rob Portman says he's hopeful Congress will be able to vote this week on Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, without invoking the so-called "nuclear" option-but he'd support it as a last result.

"We can't keep going through this extreme partisanship and save the Senate at the same time", Mr. Merkley said. The Republicans blocked Garland's nomination by refusing to hold a hearing for 10 months, purportedly on principle and not, as the Democrats charged, because of politics.

"Now, Senate Republicans aren't going to get the necessary votes for their nominee".

King, who caucuses with the Democrats, made the announcement on Tuesday, the last member of the Senate to state his position. It would lower the vote threshold from the current 60 to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.

The long-term consequences of the coming confrontation could be profound, as the rules change Republicans intend to enact would apply to future Supreme Court nominees as well, allowing them to be voted onto the court without any input from the minority party.

McConnell also said Tuesday that he had asked the Senate intelligence committee to investigate reports that former national security adviser Susan Rice ordered the unmasking of Trump transition officials under surveillance.

The change is known as the "nuclear option", and senators of both parties lament it will further erode the Senate's bipartisan traditions and contribute to the political polarization besetting the nation.

Democrats have secured the votes to block the nomination, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is poised to change longstanding Senate rules to confirm Neil Gorsuch.

The Senate is expected to vote later this week.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley took to the Senate floor on Tuesday evening to rally support for the Gorsuch filibuster. They did so after Republicans filibustered Obama's appeals court nominees.

Gorsuch will be confirmed "and he should be", John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said during Monday's debate.

"Senator Kaine's comment last fall was referring to what might happen if Republicans continued to stonewall the filling of a Supreme Court vacancy without giving any nominee due consideration, which Republicans denied Judge Garland for almost a year", the spokesperson told CQ Roll Call.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said: "What the majority leader did to Merrick Garland by denying him a hearing and a vote is even worse than a filibuster".

Restoring the nine-seat high court's conservative majority would fulfill one of Trump's top promises during the 2016 presidential campaign. Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced he'd join the effort led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Gorsuch is eminently qualified, but so was Judge Merrick Garland ("Democrats overplay their hand", Opinion, March 30).

McConnell says the Democrats' blockade is unprecedented, because there's "never been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee".

  • Leroy Wright