Washington, April 7 (IANS) Republicans in the US Senate succeeded in changing the rules to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority of the 100 members, ending a decades-old tradition of requiring 60 votes.
The GOP’s resort on Thursday to what has become known as the “nuclear option” came after a cloture motion to limit debate on President Donald Trump’s high court nominee Neil Gorsuch failed twice to garner the needed 60 votes, Efe news reported.
With the rule change approved on a party line vote of 52-48, the cloture motion passed by a margin of 55-45, limiting the amount of further debate on the Gorsuch nomination to 30 hours.
Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting for cloture on the final vote.
The federal appellate court judge from the state of Colorado is now virtually assured of confirmation by the full Senate in a vote expected to come Friday evening.
Following the failure of the second vote on cloture, the Senate minority leader Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, proposed delaying consideration of the Gorsuch nomination until April 24, after the congressional Easter break.
That motion failed by a vote of 51-48.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then rose to invoke a point of order, asking the chair to set aside the 60-vote requirement for cloture in this instance, citing the 2013 move by the-then Democratic majority to allow cloture by simple majority for judicial nominations excluding those to the Supreme Court.
The chair rejected the request from the Kentucky Republican as well as his subsequent appeal of the ruling.
Schumer then proposed a recess until 5 pm, which was voted down 52-48.
McConnell proceeded to call a vote on overturning the judgment of the chair and changing the rules of the Senate regarding filibusters of nominees.