Neil Gorsuch needs only a simple majority vote in order to be confirmed by the Senate. But before there’s even a vote to confirm, there is a procedural cloture vote that has to take place, and that’s to end debate.
If there are enough senators who don’t want to ‘end the debate,’ then you have a filibuster. (To be clear, they’re not actually wanting to debate anything; they just want to block his confirmation, because…Trump). And in order to bypass the filibuster, there needs to be 60 votes.
The Democrats need 41 votes in order to effectively block the process from getting to the confirmation vote on the senate floor. Now, it looks as though they’ve got the 41 votes needed. If that’s the case, the Republicans need 60 votes in order to move forward. Until then, Gorsuch’s confirmation will remain in limbo. From the New York Times:
Senate Democrats on Monday appeared to secure the votes necessary to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, sending the body hurtling toward a bitter partisan confrontation later this week.
With an announcement from Senator Christopher Coons, Democrat of Delaware, during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing to vote on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, Democrats had found their 41st vote in support of a filibuster.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to approve the nomination later on Monday in a likely party-line vote to move President Trump’s selection to the Senate floor.
Everyone knows how Chuck Schumer’s flip-flopped on this issue over and over again, depending on which party holds the majority.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was confident that Gorsuch would be confirmed this week. “How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends, how many of them are willing to oppose cloture on a partisan basis to kill a Supreme Court nominee, never happened before in history, the whole history of the country,” McConnell told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.
“In fact,” he said, “filibustering judges at all is a rather recent phenomenon, started by your next guest, Senator Schumer, after George Bush 43 got elected president.”
McConnell pointed out that Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H. W. Bush, was confirmed with a 52-48 vote without any senator claiming he had to reach 60 votes.
Chuck Todd asked his next guest Chuck Schumer, “Why should Senator McConnell work with you guys on this, when you changed the rules first when you decided to do this?”
“And again, a change that you yourself said this week and two months ago that you regret and it was a mistake?” Todd added. Here’s how Schumer responded:
But I don’t regret not changing it for the Supreme Court. And let me read you a quote of Mr. McConnell, you like to put up quotes. He said, “I think we can stipulate, and my good friends on the other side of the aisle stipulated from time to time over the years when they were in the minority that in the Senate, it takes 60 votes on controversial matters.” That has been the tradition of the Senate for a long time. This is nothing new.
The Meet the Press host prodded him further: “Then why did you change the rules in the first place? I go back to this because now we’re going down the slippery slope. And everybody has hypocrisy on their side to point the finger.”
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