The Senate’s Era of Hard Feelings

There is no bipartisan compromise in sight as the Senate heads for a showdown over the Supreme Court that is likely to alter longstanding chamber norms and rules, thanks to a tense partisan environment and distrust resulting from past judicial battles.


Senate Democrats solidified enough votes Monday to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans will likely deploy the so-called nuclear option to change Senate rules by a majority vote, and lower the threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominees from 60 to a majority, so Gorsuch can overcome the filibuster.
Sen. Chris Coons announced his opposition Gorsuch on Monday during the Judiciary Committee meeting to consider the nomination, thus pushing Democrats over the filibuster threshold. But the Delaware lawmaker added a caveat.


“I am not ready to end debate on this issue,” he said. “So I will be voting against cloture unless we are able, as a body, to finally sit down and find a way to avoid ‘the nuclear option’ and ensure that the process to fill the next vacancy on the court is not a narrowly partisan process.”


Such a bipartisan compromise, however, does not appear likely. Politics and hard feelings over past court battles have driven members of both parties to their respective corners, and no one is backing down. The Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to advance the Gorsuch nomination to the floor, where debate will begin on Tuesday and likely conclude on Friday.


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