Neil Gorsuch confirmation: What time will the Senate vote on the ‘nuclear option’?

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.

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