Published: Thu, April 06, 2017
Culture | By Kelly Harrison

In US Senate clashes over Trump Supreme Court pick

With Judge Gorsuch's nomination having moved forward on a partisan 11-9 vote in the Judiciary Committee, the games now begin in earnest.

His talking marathon kicked off at around 6:45 protest Republicans blockading former President Barack Obama's SCOTUS choice Merrick Garland in 2016.

"For the first time in United States history, a seat has been stolen from one president and delivered to another in a court packing scheme", Merkley said around 4 a.m. ET.

Merkley made his closing argument shortly after 10 a.m. ET, also calling for the investigations into Trump's campaign ties to Russian Federation to conclude before Gorsuch is further considered.

King, who caucuses with the Democrats, made the announcement on Tuesday, the last member of the Senate to state his position.

"It's unacceptable as we are accepting this nomination at this moment as there is a cloud over the presidency because of the conduct during the campaign", Merkley said. Democrats have secured the votes to block the nomination, and Republicans are expected to unilaterally change the rules to ensure confirmation of Gorsuch later this week.

King is up for re-election next year.

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The long-term consequences of the coming confrontation could be profound, as the rules change Republicans intend to enact would apply to future Supreme Court nominees as well, allowing them to be voted onto the court without any input from the minority party.

"Democrats are now being pushed by far-left interest groups into doing something truly detrimental to this body and to our country", McConnell said on the Senate floor.

While Murray and Cantwell were both in the Senate in 2006, when Gorsuch was unanimously confirmed by voice vote as a federal judge in Colorado, Democratic lawmakers now opposing his nomination say the stakes are much higher since the Supreme Court comes with a lifetime appointment.

Or, to put it another way: Neither Republicans and Democrats see any distinction between opposing a nominee and being willing to use a filibuster against that nominee.

As Merkley spoke, Senate Majority Leader Sen. That would set up a final confirmation vote sometime Friday evening. The most famous filibusters came during the 1960s when southern Democrats attempted to block a host of civil rights legislation - often physically speaking on the Senate floor for hours at a time. But rather than let the Democratic obstruction stand, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans plan to enact a unilateral rules change to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

While stopping a filibuster requires 60 votes, once the filibuster stops, the vote requires a simple majority.

Democrats were "hurtling toward the abyss", he said, "and trying to take the Senate with them". While majority haven't gone so far as to say that they will oppose anyone Trump nominated (as, after all, Republicans did when this seat became vacant during Barack Obama's presidency), they have hinted that this is in fact what they are up to.

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