Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set in motion the so-called “nuclear option” on Thursday following the decision by Democrats to filibuster the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
In a 55 to 45 vote, Democrats successfully denied Gorsuch from receiving the 60 votes required under existing Senate rules to invoke cloture and end the debate, bringing the nomination to a vote.
Nominees only require a majority vote to be approved, as long as no senator opposes the nomination through a filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Church Schumer, D-N.Y., has called on Republicans to change the nominee to someone more agreeable to Democrats to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia rather than change the rules by invoking the nuclear option.
McConnell could not help pointing out the irony in Schumer’s remarks on Thursday, when the minority leader stated on the Senate floor, “Just as it seemed unthinkable decades ago that we would change the rules for nominees, today’s vote is a cautionary tale about how unbridled partisan escalation can overwhelm our basic inclination to work together and and frustrate our efforts to pull back, blocking us from steering the ship of the Senate away from the rocks,” adding, “There’s a reason it was dubbed the nuclear option.”
McConnell responded, “I know the Democratic leader would rather not revisit the circumstances that brought us to this moment. … He and his party decided to ‘change the ground rules’ for handling judicial nominations. He and his party pioneered the practice of filibustering lower court judicial nominees.”
The majority leader continued, “He and his party launched the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. He and his party deployed the nuclear option in 2013.”
“There cannot be two sets of standards, one for the nominees of Democratic presidents and another for the nominees of Republican presidents,” McConnell stated.
— TrumpTracker (@DaveNYviii) April 6, 2017
As reported by Western Journalism, McConnell confirmed that he has the votes needed to invoke the nuclear option.
During the administration of George W. Bush, Schumer and the Democrats filibustered 10 Circuit Court of Appeals nominations, ultimately forcing five of them to be withdrawn.
In 2013, he backed the use of the nuclear option to push through three Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which Republicans found too controversial.
Additionally, last fall when it appeared Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president, Schumer would not rule out using the nuclear option to ensure her Supreme Court nominees were approved.
Further, though Schumer decried Republicans not bringing President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland up for consideration during the 2016 election year, he advocated not allowing Bush to make any additional appointments to the high court starting a year-and-a-half from the end of his term.
During his remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday, McConnell went over Schumer’s and the Democrats’ full history of seeking to block Republican nominees to federal courts.
He said, “This is the latest escalation in the Left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet, and it cannot, and it will not stand.”