Thursday is shaping up to be an historic day in the U.S. Senate as the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch moves toward a final vote.
Before Friday’s expected vote on the Senate floor, Republicans in the chamber are expected to introduce a measure that will change how Supreme Court nominations will be handled in the future.
Here’s what’s is expected to happen Thursday:
- The Senate will be called into session at 10 a.m. ET.
- At 11 a.m. ET, a vote is set to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination. The vote is called a cloture vote. It is a common procedural move designed to end debate or a filibuster and move an issue to a vote. Sixty votes are required for cloture to pass.
- Republicans lack those 60 votes necessary to end the filibuster, so unless some Democrats decide to vote for it, which is not likely, the cloture vote will fail.
- At that point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky), is expected to then call for a vote that will change Senate rules for moving the nomination for a Supreme Court candidate to the floor for a vote.
Currently, it takes 60 votes to end debate and move the nomination to a vote. The new rule – called the “nuclear option” – would allow for a simple majority of senators – 51 – to end filibusters and move the nomination along.
If the nuclear option is triggered Thursday and the new rules are passed, the Senate will then take a simple majority procedural vote that limits debate on Gorsuch’s nomination to 30 hours. The vote to confirm the nomination is expected on Friday evening.