Senate starts debate on Gorsuch nomination

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The Senate voted Tuesday to formally start debate on Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, paving the way for a showdown on President Trump’s pick this week. 

Senators voted 55-44 to proceed to Gorsuch’s nomination. Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) sided with Republicans to formally start debate.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) — the only senator who has yet to take a position on the filibuster — voted against moving to Gorsuch’s nomination.
{mosads}The vote paves the way for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to file cloture on Gorsuch’s nomination later Tuesday, setting up a battle over Gorsuch and the Senate’s rules on Thursday. 

Gorsuch is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome Thursday’s procedural hurdle. 

Only Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp — who are up for reelection in states carried by Trump in November — as well as Bennet have said they will support Gorsuch on the initial vote. 

When Gorsuch falls short in the initial vote, Republicans are expected to change the rules to allow him and future Supreme Court nominees to clear the Senate with a simple majority.  

Top Democrats signaled Tuesday that Republicans, not their own conference, needs to back down and put forward another Supreme Court nominee.

“No one is making our Republican colleagues change the rules,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “No one is forcing Senator McConnell to change the rules. He’s doing it at his own volition.” 

But Republicans appear resigned to the “nuclear option” to allow Gorsuch to get on the Supreme Court.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he’s confident he has the votes for the overhaul.

Tags Angus King Chuck Schumer Heidi Heitkamp Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin Michael Bennet Mitch McConnell

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