Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday invoked the "nuclear option," killing the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmation votes. Senate Democrats in 2013, then in control of the upper house, did the same thing for most other federal nominees. In each case, supporters argued the change was necessary to overcome minority obstructionism and proceed with the business of governing.
Though this week's vote passed along party lines, many Republicans expressed opposition to the nuclear option earlier this year. And in the run-up to Thursday's vote, a bipartisan group of nine senators made a secret, last-ditch effort to save the filibuster. Politico reports on why they failed:
[Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)] circulated a proposal calling on senators in both parties to admit they'd abused the Senate rules to the detriment of the institution — and commit to not do so again in the future. It was designed to be painful and cathartic: Republicans would express regret for blocking Merrick Garland last year; Democrats would do the same for a 2013 rules change that set the stage for this year's nuclear option.
But clinching an agreement on how Democrats would advance Gorsuch while preserving the option of blocking a nominee for the next vacancy proved impossible. The fact that the parties clashed so severely over whether Gorsuch was even a mainstream jurist undermined any confidence that senators could hold to a pact covering President Donald Trump's next Supreme Court pick. [Politico]
Politico's 20-plus sources disagreed on whether the project to save the filibuster ever stood a real chance, but they agreed the "gap between the two parties was too broad and mistrust" too widespread for the group to succeed.