On Thursday, Senate Republicans invoked the nuclear option to break the Democratic filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. As a result of the rule change and the Democratic invocation of the nuclear option for executive branch and lower-court nominees in 2013, all presidential nominees can now be confirmed with a simple majority vote.
The Senate approved the rule change 52–48. All Democrats opposed it. Three Democratic senators—all up for re-election in 2018—voted with the GOP both against the Democratic filibuster before the rule change and for advancing Gorsuch’s nomination to confirmation after the rule change: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. A fourth Democratic senator, Michael Bennet of Colorado, voted against the Democratic filibuster and against advancing Gorsuch’s nomination.
Some have speculated that Thursday’s rule change could lead to an end of the filibuster for legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Republicans have promised this will not happen under their leadership. “I’d rather lose than be part of killing the Senate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told BuzzFeed.