Today, the Senate voted to exercise the “nuclear” option - which means that Supreme Court justices can be chosen by a simple majority vote. Previously, the requirements were that Supreme Court nominees needed at least 60 votes in the Senate to advance past a filibuster to a full vote.
According to an Associated Press article, "With his final vote set for Friday, Gorsuch counts 55 supporters: the 52 Republicans, along with three moderate Democrats from states that Trump won - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. A fourth Senate Democrat, Michael Bennet from Gorsuch's home state of Colorado, refused to join in the filibuster Thursday but announced he would vote against Gorsuch's confirmation.”
Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain both supported the decision to use the “Nuclear” option, albeit reluctantly.
Statement By Senator John McCain On Today’s Vote To Change The Senate Rules
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on the Senate’s vote to eliminate the 60-vote threshold on Supreme Court nominations:
“Today’s vote to eliminate the 60-vote threshold on Supreme Court nominations represents a regrettable setback for the institution of the United States Senate. I fear today’s action will irreparably damage the uniqueness of the Senate, and along with it, any hope of restoring meaningful bipartisanship.
“When then-Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the Senate rules in 2013, there was no one more critical of his actions than me. I fought hard to convince my colleagues of the damage those changes would do to the Senate. I did so because I love this institution and the place it holds in our system of government.
“But today, the Democrats chose to filibuster the nomination of a world-class jurist with the experience, knowledge, and judicial temperament to serve with honor and distinction on the nation’s highest court. Clearly, if the Democrats are willing to filibuster this exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court, they are prepared to do so on any nominee put forward by this President.
“The Democrats’ unprecedented, partisan filibuster of the nomination of Judge Gorsuch unfortunately left me with no other choice than to vote to change the rules and allow Judge Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority. I did so with great reluctance – not because I have any doubts that Judge Gorsuch will be an excellent Supreme Court Justice, but because of the further damage, perhaps permanent, I fear it will do to the Senate.”
Flake Statement on Voting to Prevent Filibustering of Qualified Supreme Court Nominees
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after voting to change Senate rules to prevent filibustering of qualified Supreme Court nominees. This sets the stage for a final up-or-down vote on confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court:
“Judge Gorsuch is an accomplished, mainstream jurist who would have justifiably received near unanimous support just a few years ago. Never before has such a highly-qualified nominee put forward by a recently-elected president to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat been successfully filibustered. While changing Senate rules was not my preferred outcome, this will simply make de jure what was de facto prior to 2003, when filibusters were virtually never used on the executive calendar.”
To view the very latest content about Flake’s support for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, including clips from the confirmation hearings, floor speeches, and media interviews, click here.
On April 3, 2017, Flake spoke on the Senate floor to reiterate his support for confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and to make the case against filibustering his nomination. Watch the full speech here.
On April 3, 2017, Flake voted to favorably report Judge Gorsuch out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more about the committee vote here.
On March 22, 2017, Flake questioned Judge Gorsuch at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing about binding Supreme Court precedent, religious liberty, and the interaction between traditional legal concepts and emerging technology. Watch the exchange here.
On March 21, 2017, Flake questioned Judge Gorsuch at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on the complexities of Western resources law, the separation of powers, and religious liberty. Watch the exchange here.
On March 20, 2017, Flake delivered opening remarks in support of Judge Gorsuch at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Video and a transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
On March 15, 2017, Flake spoke on the Senate floor to praise Judge Gorsuch’s Western background. Video and a transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
On Feb. 15, 2017, Flake spoke on the Senate floor to highlight Judge Gorsuch’s record as a defender of religious freedom. Video and a transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
On Feb. 9, 2017, Flake spoke on the Senate floor to highlight Judge Gorsuch’s respect for the separation of powers. Video and a transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
On Feb. 8, 2017, Flake met with Judge Gorsuch in his Washington, D.C. office. Video and a statement from the meeting can be viewed here.
On Feb. 2, 2017, Flake spoke on the Senate floor to express his support of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Video and a transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
Representative Paul Gosar noted the irony of the Democrats’ complaints:
If only there was a way for us to know how Senate Democrats would handle the filibuster if Clinton was POTUS? ? https://t.co/6uHJBVOtIs— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) April 6, 2017