World Bulletin / News Desk
Senate Republicans on Thursday successfully carried out the "nuclear option" to get President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, to receive an up or down vote.
Senate Democrats earlier Thursday gathered enough votes to filibuster Gorsuch in a 55-45 procedural block.
The move triggered Republicans to impose a historic rules change to get Gorsuch to America's highest court. He needed 60 votes to advance to a final vote under the former rules.
The so-called "nuclear option" eliminates the 60-vote cloture threshold, and paves the way for a straight simple-majority vote on any and all future Supreme Court nominees.
The elimination of the 60-vote threshold will likely prompt more ideologically-driven nominees from presidents, which could adversely affect the top court.
"I find myself torn between protecting the traditions and practices of the Senate, and the importance of having a full complement of Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court," Sen. John McCain said in a statement. He added that he would ultimately vote to undo Senate rules.
The showdown over Gorsuch comes amid a more-than-one-year shortage on America's top court prompted by Republican refusal to hear any Barack Obama nominee following the February 2016 death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adamantly denied a hearing for moderate chief judge Merrick Garland, an Obama nominee, and his refusal has continued to resonate with Democrats.
"We Dems have given Judge Gorsuch a fair process – something Merrick Garland was denied. worse than a filibuster," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Twitter.
Republicans sought to hold out for nearly a year in the hopes that a member of their party would win last November's presidential polls. Their recalcitrance angered Democrats, setting the stage for the vote on the removal of the 60-vote threshold.
A confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday.
A political earthquake rocked the US Senate Thursday as Democrats blocked President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, triggering a Republican move to change longstanding rules in order to ram the nomination through.
A procedural vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch failed when 44 Democrats opposed the nomination in the 100 member chamber, leaving Republicans shy of the 60 needed to end the debate and move to a confirmation vote.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the chamber's majority leader, responded by signalling he would work immediately to change the rules so that the approval of Gorsuch -- and all subsequent presidential nominees to the high court -- is no longer subject to the 60-vote threshold, but only a simple majority vote.
McConnell blasted the Democratic blocking tactic, known as a filibuster, as a "radical move" that has never until now been successfully employed to block a Supreme Court nominee.
"This should not be allowed to succeed or to continue, for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the court and for the sake of the country."
But McConnell's rule change -- the so-called "nuclear option" -- is equally explosive, as lawmakers warn it will dramatically reduce the chamber's tradition of bipartisanship and compromise when it comes to Supreme Court appointments.
The tit-for-tat maneuvers are almost certain to change the tone and temper of the Senate, and lead to more fringe high-court justices being approved on either political side.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer pointed the finger at Republicans, but said he took "no solace" in blaming his political rivals because the consequences of the change will be so dramatic.
"The nuclear option means the end of a long history of consensus on Supreme Court nominations," he said moments before the vote, describing the Senate's ability to use the 60-vote threshold as "the guardrail of our democracy."
"The answer is not to undo the guardrails, the rules. It's to steer back to the middle, and get a more mainstream candidate."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Nisan 2017, 20:20