Dems Claim Nuclear Option Ruins The Senate

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Democrats walked off the Senate floor Thursday accusing Republicans of irreparably harming the upper chamber after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led his conference to change the 60-vote threshold on Supreme Court nominees.

Republicans, on the other hand, argued they were bringing the Senate back to its roots.

Voting along party lines 52-48, the Senate moved to change the rules and move forward to a final vote of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

“The opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man that nominated him and the party he represents than the nominee himself. It’s part of a much larger story, another extreme escalation in the left’s never-ending drive to politicize the courts and the confirmation process,” McConnell said on the floor Thursday morning.  “It’s a fight they have waged for decades with a singular aim, securing raw power no matter the cost to the country or the institution. It underlies why this threatened filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed or to continue for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the court, and for the sake of our country.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, responded in his floor speech, “When our body politic is veering too far to the right or to the left the answer is not to dismantle the guard rails and go over the cliff but to turn the wheel back toward the middle. The answer is not to undo the guard rails the rules. It’s to steer back to the middle and get a more mainstream candidate.”

A bipartisan group of senators known as the “gang of 14” successfully stopped the change of the judicial filibuster in 2006 when Democrats blocked judicial appointments of George W. Bush. The remaining members in the Senate of the original gang of 14 — Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — all voted with their party to change the rule this time.

Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Trent Lott and Bob Dole co-wrote an op-ed Thursday in The Washington Post supporting the rule change to the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees.

“[T]reating a 60-vote threshold as ‘standard’ is not only unfair, it is also without historical precedent. As The Post fact-checker who examined this ‘slippery’ claim documented, there have been only four cloture votes for Supreme Court nominees. In a 2005 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article on the filibuster, two students of Senate history, Martin Gold and Dimple Gupta, pointed out that when the Senate changed its cloture rules to apply to all ‘debatable propositions’ in 1949, nominations were swept into the new rule ‘by happenstance. The Senate debates include not a single mention of filibusters of nominations, likely because the concept was so alien to the Senate of 1949,’” Lott and Dole write.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, however, argued that things went awry when Republicans refused to give Barack Obama’s Supreme Court appointment Merrick Garland a hearing.

“I think apropos of how this really went astray was when there seems there was a judgment for purposes Of the Supreme Court nomination Barack Obama was going to get three years,” Wyden told reporters.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told The Daily Caller the rule change is “Something that if we want the Senate to function the way it functioned from 1789 to 2002, where there were not any filibusters of judges, and considering what was done in 2013 by Reid, this is something that brings the Senate back to what tradition has been for a long period of time.”

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein told reporters she did not think Gorsuch was forthcoming enough at the judiciary hearings to get her support for cloture.

In either the rankings of being the most conservative or second most conservative, I think he did not easily answer all questions to say no that isn’t me or answer questions on some of the cases like Chevron,” she said.

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