A Guide To Today’s Senate Votes And The “Nuclear Option”

It’s going to be a wild ride in the Senate today to move on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Based on the Democrats promise to filibuster the nomination and the GOP’s intention to invoke the “Nuclear Option” to break the filibuster by a majority, rather than a 60 vote margin, we’re going to see a number of votes today.

You can follow our live tallies of each vote here.

The outline of expected procedural votes below is based on the January 2013 series of procedural votes, as cataloged by the Congressional Research Service. This is the procedure used when Democrats voted to end the 60 vote threshold for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court.

One note: The Senate is not “changing the rules” of the body. They will be establishing a rules precedent under which the Senate will now operate. It’s a technical but important distinction. Changing the Senate rules requires a super majority while changing precedents only requires a simple majority.


Vote 1: Cloture (11:19 EDT-As expected there are already more than 41 votes against invoking cloture. The “nuclear option” will proceed.)
This will require 60 votes under the current rules. Based on the statements of Democratic Senators, Gorsuch will not get the required 60 votes.


Vote 2: A Motion to Reconsider (11:46 EDT. Motion agreed to)
The Senate Majority leader will move to reconsider the cloture vote. This is not subject to debate and requires a simple majority.
It is expected to pass with GOP votes.

BONUS VOTE: (11:56 EDT. Motion Fails)

Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has offered a motion to postponed consideration until 3pm April 24th. The GOP will vote this down by majority vote.


Vote 3: Vote to Reconsider
The GOP will pass this and the Senate will once again be faced with the original cloture motion that failed in the first vote.
It is expected to pass with GOP votes.


Point of Order
The Senate Majority Leader will raise a point of order along the lines of, “the vote on cloture under rule XXII for the Supreme Court of the United States is by majority vote.”

Ruling of the Chair
The presiding officer will likely rule *against* the Majority Leader’s point of order.

Bonus Vote 2: (12:12 EDT-Fails)

Shumer offers a motion to adjourn until 5pm.


Vote 4:  Appeal the Ruling of the Chair
The Senate is in the end the judge of its own rules. Following the ruling of the chair, the Senate will then vote to overrule the ruling of the chair and uphold the Majority Leader’s point of order that invoking cloture for Supreme Court nominees only requires a majority vote.

A “No” vote is a vote to overturn the ruling of the chair that 60 votes are necessary. This is the “nuclear option”.

12:34 EDT- The ruling of the chair that 60 votes is needed to invoke cloture on Supreme Court nominees is *not* upheld. Cloture will now only require a simple majority.


Point of Order (Shumer did not raise this at this point, onto final cloture vote with only a majority needed)
The minority leader is expected to raise a point of order that cloture for Supreme Court nominees requires a 3/5 vote of the Senate. Based on the previous vote, the Chair will likely rule against this point of order. The minority leader will almost certainly appeal the ruling.

The GOP will vote to uphold the ruling of the chair and the simple majority precedent for invoking cloture will have been created.


5th And Final Vote (12:42 EDT- Cloture invoked 55-45)
The Senate will then return to the reconsidering the cloture motion and it should pass with a simple majority of GOP votes.


The Senate will have at that point invoked cloture. They will not be able to move on to a final confirmation vote until 30 hours of post-cloture debate time has lapsed or there is unanimous consent to move on to the vote earlier.

Final confirmation only requires a simple majority and will include all Republicans and a handful of Democrats.