Republicans change Senate rules to confirm Trump court pick

2017-04-06 22:53
An activist wears a StopGorsuch T-shirt during a press conference by Democratic senators against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. (Mandel Ngan, AFP)

An activist wears a StopGorsuch T-shirt during a press conference by Democratic senators against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. (Mandel Ngan, AFP)

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Washington - Republicans took the historic step on Thursday of changing US Senate rules to clear the way for confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, bypassing the first-ever successful opposition block of a high court nominee.

President Donald Trump's pick, embraced by conservatives but opposed by most Democrats, failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to end debate and move to a simple majority confirmation vote in the 100-seat Senate.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to change the rules to ensure that a simple majority suffices to advance Gorsuch - and all subsequent Supreme Court nominees - from the debate to a vote.

The rule change - known as the so-called "nuclear option" - was approved in a party-line vote of 52 to 48, in a political earthquake for the Senate and its efforts at bipartisanship.

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