Republicans Threaten to "Go Nuclear" on Filibuster by Thursday

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.

Democrats tried mightily to keep the focus on Republicans' plans to change Senate rules, rather than on their own plans to obstruct a nominee who would likely have gotten onto the court easily with no filibuster in earlier, less contentious political times.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-Texas: "This is unprecedented in American history, a partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee".

Sen. Joe Donnelly of IN said he would vote IN favor of Gorsuch's confirmation while Sen.

On Sunday's edition of NBC's "Meet the Press", McConnell said "I don't think the legislative filibuster is in danger". Once that line was crossed, it was inevitable the Senate would come to where it is this week.

While Republicans hold the majority in the upper chamber - 52 to 48 - they would still need six Democratic votes. In the Senate, 60 votes are required to overcome the filibuster.

"What the majority leader did to Merrick Garland by denying him even a hearing and a vote is even worse than a filibuster".

For Republicans, the move to go nuclear follows more than two months of GOP losses on issue after issue.

In 2013, Senate Democrats invoked the so-called "nuclear option" on non-Supreme Court judicial nominees.

"I will vote for him with a very clear conscience, for whatever that matters", said Sen. "He's doing it at his own volition just as he prevented Merrick Garland from getting a vote as his own volition".

The panel's 20 members began a last round of angry debate between Republicans determined to confirm Gorsuch to the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016 and Democrats still seething at the GOP's refusal to consider former President Baraxck Obama's choice past year. But as of Monday (3 April), Democrats had enough votes to make it a bumpy ride. "The majority said, 'We intend to pack the court of the United States of America, '" he said. The Republicans should, therefore, not even vote on Gorsuch's nomination.

The divide on Gorsuch's nomination is deep.

Specifically, he cited Gorsuch's rulings on worker safety and disability rights, and his stance on Chevron deference, the test set forth by a 1984 Supreme Court ruling on whether to defer to an agency's interpretation of a statute it administers.

"We lost one, they lost one", Schumer said.

King is the 44th lawmaker to say he would vote against the nominee and vote against moving ahead on the nomination. That started the clock toward a showdown on Thursday, when Democrats are expected to try to block Gorsuch, at which point Republicans would respond by enacting the rules change.

  • Larry Hoffman