McConnell invokes 'nuclear option' after Democrats filibuster Gorsuch

Mitch McConnell.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) invoked the "nuclear option" in the upper chamber Thursday, moving to kill the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. His motion prevailed in a 52-48 vote along party lines.

The change to Senate rules was prompted by Democrats' successful efforts to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. They twice denied a cloture vote 55-45, failing to provide Republicans the votes they needed to surpass the 60-vote threshold and end debate over Gorsuch's nomination. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) then moved for the nomination vote to be postponed until April 24, which failed 52-48 on a party-line vote, as did his similar motion to adjourn the session.

McConnell then moved to hold a vote on overriding the Senate parliamentarian by allowing the cloture vote to instead be decided by a simple majority, invoking the so-called "nuclear option." After that motion prevailed, the cloture vote was then approved 55-45, allowing the Senate to move Gorsuch's nomination forward. A vote to confirm Gorsuch is expected Friday evening.

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Kimberly Alters

Kimberly Alters is the news editor at TheWeek.com. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.