McConnell claims votes to bust court filibuster


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed the votes Tuesday to bust a planned Democratic filibuster of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as a showdown neared that could change the Senate, and the court, for generations.

“They seem determined to head into the abyss,” the Kentucky Republican said of Democrats as debate began over Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination. “They need to reconsider.”

Democrats made clear they had no plans to do so, and blamed Republicans for pushing them to attempt a nearly unheard of filibuster of a well-qualified Supreme Court pick. Forty-four Democrats intend to vote against proceeding to final confirmation on Gorsuch, which would be enough to block him under the Senate’s filibuster rules that require 60 votes to proceed.

But McConnell intends to act unilaterally with the rest of his 52-member GOP conference and change the rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold and require just a simple majority on Gorsuch and all future Supreme Court nominees. Asked if he has the votes to do that, given misgivings voiced by many Republicans, McConnell answered simply “yes.”

Democrats tried mightily to keep the focus on Republicans’ plans to change Senate rules, rather than on their own plans to obstruct a nominee who would likely have gotten onto the court easily with no filibuster in earlier and less contentious political times.

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