Republican Party Nukes the US Senate for "Trump's Corrupt Agenda"

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Republican Party Nukes the US Senate for "Trump's Corrupt Agenda"

"Today, the world's so-called greatest deliberative body has become the latest casualty in the right-wing onslaught on our democracy"

"The deed is done," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) after the vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "has just put a knife into the heart of our We the People republic." (Photo: Screenshot)

Outrage swelled on Thursday after Senate Republicans changed the rules in their favor, all but ensuring Friday's confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

"Today, the world's so-called greatest deliberative body has become the latest casualty in the right-wing onslaught on our democracy," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, following the 52-48 vote triggering the so-called "nuclear option."

"The country will never forget that these Republicans blindly enabled a reckless president under gathering clouds of investigation to steal a seat on the Supreme Court and enshrine his dangerous agenda for a lifetime."
—Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America

"When it became clear that President Trump's Supreme Court nominee could not meet the 60-vote threshold and should be replaced with a more consensus choice, Leader [Mitch] McConnell opted for a naked partisan power play by changing the rules in the middle of the game," Henderson said.

Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson agreed, declaring: "Senate Republicans have shown today that nothing is sacred when it comes to pushing forward Trump's agenda. Neil Gorsuch is an extremist who couldn't get confirmed by the Senate's rules. Senate Republicans have resorted to tossing out a 200-year-old rule to confirm a nominee who will pull our country's progress into reverse. Once again, Republicans are rigging the game to push Trump's corrupt agenda. If Neil Gorsuch can't get 60 votes in the Senate, he can't be trusted with a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the nation."

Others described the maneuver as "one of the most craven and cynical power-grabs in American history"; "a failure in leadership"; and "a betrayal of the American people."

"[T]he GOP's use of the nuclear option highlights in stark terms the Republican Party's unique hostility to democracy, which has come to define the party in recent years through efforts like voter suppression, gerrymandering, and a stolen Supreme Court seat," wrote Ari Berman at The Nation.

"The pattern is clear," he wrote, "when Republicans don't like the legislative rules or an outcome of an election, they change the rules or try to nullify the election. The story isn't that both sides are to blame for hyper-partisanship in Washington. It's that one party believes in democracy and the other does not."

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who emerged as a leader in the resistance to Gorsuch with a 15-hour talk-a-thon on the Senate floor earlier this week, issued a somber declaration: "The deed is done," he wrote. "McConnell has just put a knife into the heart of our We the People republic."

Groups vowed to hold lawmakers accountable for the "deeply flawed and highly politicized" move they warned would help "advance this administration's hate-filled, climate-denying agenda."

"Let's be clear," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, "breaking the Senate was a decision by Republicans and Republicans alone, and we will be sure that voters do not forget it."

"History will not look kindly upon these senators, when a of lack of courage and thirst for power led the GOP to destroy 200 years of Senate tradition and forever degrade our democracy," she continued. "The country will never forget that these Republicans blindly enabled a reckless president under gathering clouds of investigation to steal a seat on the Supreme Court and enshrine his dangerous agenda for a lifetime."

Indeed, the national resistance movement is ready to give lawmakers an earful during the Senate's upcoming recess, which begins this weekend. "Republicans will try to point fingers," the Indivisible movement said in its statement, "but the onus falls squarely on them. They've chosen party and partisanship over country, and [we] expect they'll hear about this from constituents over the upcoming recess."

Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said it was expanding its ad buy targeting "vulnerable 2018 Republicans" in an effort to make sure they "face real political consequences in 2018 for breaking the Senate to force onto the court someone who puts big corporations over working families."

And it's not just Republicans that face the nation's ire. Three Democrats voted to end debate on Gorsuch's nomination after the Senate went nuclear: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. (Democrat Michael Bennet of Colorado, who also broke with his party's filibuster earlier Thursday, explained why he voted no on cloture the second time in a statement posted online.)

"Our message to Senate Republicans and turncoat Democrats like Sen. Manchin and Sen. Heitkamp is simple: women are watching and you will be held accountable," warned Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of women's advocacy group UltraViolet. "Every time the Supreme Court makes a decision that hurts women, we will hold you responsible. We will make sure that every one of your constituents knows that Supreme Court-sanctioned attacks on our nation's principles were possible only because of you."

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