Outrage swelled on Thursday after Senate Republicans changed the rules in their favor, all but ensuring Friday’s confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
“Today, the world’s so-called greatest deliberative body has become the latest casualty in the right-wing onslaught on our democracy,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, following the 52-48 vote triggering the so-called “nuclear option.”
“The country will never forget that these Republicans blindly enabled a reckless president under gathering clouds of investigation to steal a seat on the Supreme Court and enshrine his dangerous agenda for a lifetime.”
—Ilyse Hogue, NARAL Pro-Choice America
“When it became clear that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could not meet the 60-vote threshold and should be replaced with a more consensus choice, Leader [Mitch] McConnell opted for a naked partisan power play by changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Henderson said.
Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson agreed, declaring: “Senate Republicans have shown today that nothing is sacred when it comes to pushing forward Trump’s agenda. Neil Gorsuch is an extremist who couldn’t get confirmed by the Senate’s rules. Senate Republicans have resorted to tossing out a 200-year-old rule to confirm a nominee who will pull our country’s progress into reverse. Once again, Republicans are rigging the game to push Trump’s corrupt agenda. If Neil Gorsuch can’t get 60 votes in the Senate, he can’t be trusted with a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the nation.”
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Others described the maneuver as “one of the most craven and cynical power-grabs in American history”; “a failure in leadership”; and “a betrayal of the American people.”
“[T]he GOP’s use of the nuclear option highlights in stark terms the Republican Party’s unique hostility to democracy, which has come to define the party in recent years through efforts like voter suppression, gerrymandering, and a stolen Supreme Court seat,” wrote Ari Berman at The Nation.
“The pattern is clear,” he wrote, “when Republicans don’t like the legislative rules or an outcome of an election, they change the rules or try to nullify the election. The story isn’t that both sides are to blame for hyper-partisanship in Washington. It’s that one party believes in democracy and the other does not.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who emerged as a leader in the resistance to Gorsuch with a 15-hour talk-a-thon on the Senate floor earlier this week, issued a somber declaration: “The deed is done,” he wrote. “McConnell has just put a knife into the heart of our We the People republic.”
Groups vowed to hold lawmakers accountable for the “deeply flawed and highly politicized” move they warned would help “advance this administration’s hate-filled, climate-denying agenda.”
“Let’s be clear,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, “breaking the Senate was a decision by Republicans and Republicans alone, and we will be sure that voters do not forget it.”
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