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'The Day the Senate Died': Republicans Go Nuclear Over Neil Gorsuch

'The Senate was supposed to be better than this'

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and President Donald Trump. (Photo: AP)

This story may be updated.


Republicans in the U.S. Senate successfully rewrote the rules on Thursday, with a 52-48 party-line vote triggering the so-called "nuclear option" that lowers the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.

NARAL Pro-Choice America called it "the day the Senate died."

Subsequently, the chamber voted 55-45 to end debate on Neil Gorsuch's nomination, with Democrats Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voting with Republicans. The three Democrats (along with Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado) bucked their party's filibuster earlier Thursday.

This sets up a vote on Gorsuch's confirmation for Friday.


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) cast the 41st vote against cloture on Thursday morning, teeing up the GOP's "nuclear option" that would change the rules of the U.S. Senate.

Four Democrats—Michael Bennet (Colo.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.)—voted to advance Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but the 55-45 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to move forward with votes to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.

Even as that prospect loomed, advocacy groups pleaded with Republicans to change their nominee—not the rules.

"Today's failure by the Senate Republicans to secure 60 votes to move forward on President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court speaks to the flaws of Judge Gorsuch, not the rules of the Senate," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, following the vote. "Instead of selecting a consensus nominee, the president chose someone who was proposed by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society and who has shown that he will not support the interests of everyday Americans. It's time for the Republican Party to change the nominee, not the rules."

Watch live here.


All eyes on are on the U.S. Senate Thursday, as the showdown over President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, reaches its apex.

After Democrats mount their expected filibuster, denying a motion to end debate, Senate Republicans are set to "go nuclear" late Thursday morning, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ready to call for a vote on permanently changing chamber rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees. According to The Hill, "a 52-48 vote to change the rule is expected, with all Democrats and their Independent allies opposed."

Roll Call has a run-down of how Thursday could play out:

"It's a sad day," Jennifer Lawless, a government professor and director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, told USA Today. "The Senate was supposed to be better than this."

McConnell has vowed that Gorsuch will be confirmed on Friday, before the Senate leaves for a two-week recess.

Watch the proceedings live on C-SPAN.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups and the grassroots resistance movement continue to protest Gorsuch as an extreme nominee with a troubling record on women's rights, worker protections, and big money in politics. 

Eight people were reportedly arrested Thursday morning in the Hart Senate building during a sit-in demanding a no vote on Gorsuch:

Opponents also held a rally in the Capitol on Thursday, at which Democratic senators—including Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who held the Senate floor for more than 15 hours against Gorsuch this week—once again voiced their reservations about both the nominee and the prospect of going nuclear.

Follow the action online:

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